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Meet Tessa Diaczun: Designing a new program for children with health complexity

Tessa Diaczun is a nurse practitioner (NP) and clinical planning lead with the Slocan Site Redevelopment Project.
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​Tessa is leading the design of the clinical program for the new BC Children’s Hospital centre for health complexity​, scheduled to open in 2028. As the centre will be the first of its kind in the province, it’s an exciting opportunity to shift how care is delivered to children and youth with health complexity and to enhance support to their families from across B.C. and Yukon. We interviewed Tessa to find out why this role and work are so meaningful for her.    

What were you doing before you took on this role? 

Prior to this role, I was working as a pediatric NP in the BC Children’s Hospital Complex Care Program and Child and Youth Primary Care Clinic. These roles, and others I’ve held at BC Children’s and in Ontario, have helped inform the work that I do now. It’s a privilege to take all that I’ve learned from years of working with children and families and apply it to system change. I continue to work a few hours per week in a clinical capacity at BC Children’s Hospital; this is an important way for me to stay in touch with clinicians and families, and to understand system strengths and challenges on a first-hand basis. 

Why did you want to get involved in this project? 

I have a strong personal and professional connection to this population of children and families. From a young age, I spent time with my cousin, family friend, and other children with health complexity that my mom provided respite to. These relationships informed who I am and how I see the world. Professionally, I’ve been working with children with health complexity and their families for most of my 20-year career. I got involved with the project early on, during concept plan and business plan development. When the business plan was approved by the Ministry of Health in 2022, there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to join the project on a full-time basis. I feel so lucky to have this opportunity! 

What do you wish more people knew about children living with health complexity, and their families? 

Children with health complexity and their families face such enormous challenges within our system. Caregivers have to navigate systems, endlessly advocate for needed care and services, provide a high level of daily care to their children at home, and all the while be parents to their children. Unfortunately, what is sometimes forgotten is that these children have strengths and contributions that are so important to our communities. Their perspectives, experiences, values, and priorities are ones I have personally learned a lot from. 

What makes the new centre innovative and unique?  

We have an opportunity to really shift the way care is delivered to children with health complexity and their families in B.C. and Yukon through this new centre. The new building will be purpose-built – children and families will feel like their unique needs are reflected in the design. The spaces and clinical program will be designed for high-quality virtual care experiences. And the building itself will include mass timber, which is both visually appealing and a unique material for a health-care facility. 

When you imagine what the future looks like with the new centre, what are you most optimistic about?  

The new clinical program will address gaps in the health-care system for children living with health complexity and their families. I am hopeful that families will feel supported in real, tangible ways – that they will have more accessible services and supports, and that they will have a team of professionals to turn to who can support them on their unique journeys. 

How do you unwind outside of work? 

I love being outside with my daughter and husband – at the beach, in the mountains, on a trail, or in a tent. I also have two orange cats who are very good at snuggling!​
BC Children's Hospital; Planning and Design
Children's Health
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