New Kid in Town: Tyrone Okrainetz

The New Kid in Town: Tyrone Okrainetz

There is a new face roaming the halls of Porteous Lodge. His name is Tyrone Okrainetz and he’s the new Director of Care.  Tyrone grew up in Langenburg, Saskatchewan, a small community in southeastern Saskatchewan.  He is the youngest of four children.  His father was a farmer. His mom was a teacher. As many kids do in small town Saskatchewan, Tyrone played a lot of sports including hockey, baseball and curling.  That dropped off once he went to university in Saskatoon to become a registered nurse.

“After graduating, I worked as a front line RN at Royal University Hospital,” says Tyrone Okrainetz, Director of Care, Porteous Lodge. “Eight years into it, I took a year off to do my MBA at the Edwards School of Business.  After obtaining my MBA, I returned to RUH and worked in management.” 

Tyrone started in general medicine, then managed cardiology, neurology and then became responsible for staff scheduling. He was then asked to be a consultant for the Health Region to work on master rotations and schedules throughout the region.  His last job before joining the team at Porteous Lodge was managing the Transitional Care Unit and the Convalescent Unit at City Hospital.  He believes the experience he gained in that role will help him in his new role at Porteous.

“In the Transitional Care Unit, the patients go from acute care and are on the long-term care list, but there isn’t a spot in long-term care for them yet,” says Tyrone. “It’s long-term care in an acute care setting so there are unique challenges to that.” 

Residents in the Transitional Care Unit can wait anywhere from one month to two years for a spot in a long-term care home. Some residents are difficult to place because they either need a secure unit or they are on a ventilator.  Tyrone says the biggest challenge was to try and make an acute care setting feel more like a home.

“We considered it their home,” says Tyrone. “They are there temporarily but they can be there anywhere from a month to two years.  It’s really hard to make an institution like City Hospital feel like home.” 

Tyrone comes to Porteous Lodge with a unique skill set. He’s a registered nurse with a business background.

“I understand the business of health care,” says Tyrone. “I can use that to help guide and make decisions that are best for the residents that fit within the financial constructs of health care.” 

Tyrone has only been on the job at Porteous Lodge since early February. Right now he plans to just observe and learn as much as he can about how Porteous functions.

“I know health care,” says Tyrone. “I know the roles of all the workers.  I just don’t know the rhythm of Porteous Lodge.  I need to learn the issues that are affecting the staff and the residents.  My biggest challenge is to learn the names of 99 residents and probably about 150 staff.” 

And while he focusses on learning everyone’s name, he won’t be making any major changes anytime soon.

“My philosophy is for change to happen, it has to be meaningful,” says Tyrone. “You don’t bring in change just for the sake of bringing in change.  So, I’ll need some time to settle in the role.”

What he has learned and what has pleasantly surprised him in his few short weeks working at Porteous Lodge is that Porteous is a caring community, and it starts at the top with the CEO and the board members.

“Working in health care for the Saskatoon Health Region, now the Saskatchewan Health Authority for over 15 years, I haven’t been to a place where I see the CEO talking with the residents and the staff on a daily basis and board members coming and being present with staff and with the residents,” says Tyrone. “The positive that I’ve really seen is how this is a smaller, tight-knit organization. Coming from a very large organization, I think that is one of Porteous’ greatest assets.”

Tyrone is juggling his new position at Porteous while raising his young son Lincoln. He and his partner Crystal love spending as much time as they can with Lincoln.  One of the things they enjoy as a family is going to RUSH games at SaskTel Centre.  Lincoln isn’t walking just yet but they anticipate it will be any day now.

“Now that he’s a bit more mobile, he loves to play catch,” says Tyrone. “He’s even playing catch with the dogs.  My girlfriend dog sits, so there’s always a new one in the house every week so Lincoln is teaching them how to fetch.”  

When Tyrone isn’t spending time with his family, he’s out trying some new sport or activity. Recently he picked up bowling.

“I like just going with friends and joining a sports group or an activity that I know nothing about…just to learn a new skill and try and improve,” says Tyrone. “So, right now, my focus is bowling. My next goal is to break 100 in 3 straight games.  I am the worst bowler.”

A bad bowler who enjoys a little refreshment now and then; Innis and Gunn Original is his beer of choice or any beer that is marketed well.

“If there’s a witty marketing slogan on it, that makes me chuckle, I will buy and try that beer,” says Tryone.  

He also enjoys riding his Kawasaki KLR 650 motorcycle.

“It’s a dual purpose,” says Tyrone. “I can go anywhere.  I just can’t get their fast.” 

His dream is to take his motorcycle and head to Canada’s West Coast. It’s on his bucket list; just him, his backpack and a fishing rod.  There may be a book or two along for the ride.

“I really like trivia or history books,” says Tyrone. “Any book that after I put it down; I know something more about the world.” 

Tyrone claims he has a sarcastic sense of humour which staff and residents haven’t likely seen just yet. He thinks as time goes on and he becomes more comfortable, his sarcasm will slowly come out. He also has a pet peeve.  He hates clutter and being disorganized.

“I’m going to come in here and clean this office,” says Tyrone. “I like a nice clean workspace so I can focus.  I’m not a neat freak.  I just like it simple.  I’m a minimalist.”

When it comes to the seasons, Tyrone prefers summer.

“Summer for sure but in Saskatchewan you really have to embrace winter,” says Tyrone. “You can be cooped up or you can be out there skating on Meewasin Park or snow shoeing.  You have to embrace it here.”   

Tryone’s hope is that the staff and residents of Porteous Lodge will embrace him in his new role as Director of Care.

“My role is to ensure there is staff here, on shift to take care of the residents, to make sure that the residents’ needs are met,” says Tyrone. “It’s all about the residents.”