Self-proclaimed country girl, Brenda Martinussen, has started fresh in a new role as CEO of the Portage Clinic.

From Balmoral, Manitoba, Martinussen's background is extensive in clinical psychology and health management, working with the Interlake Eastern Regional Health Authority in a leadership role in the past and, most recently, the Canadian Coalition for Seniors Mental Health.

"I've spent the majority of my career working in community care, social services, and healthcare," says Martinussen.

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She speaks about her vision for the clinic under her leadership.

"I've only been here a couple of weeks. So, I'm getting to know the clinic's staff and operations. I'm going to be spending time working, trying to connect directly with the staff one-on-one, learning and listening. That's going to be a lot of my first few weeks, just learning, listening."

Martinussen explains that her focus is to serve the community and everyone who uses the Portage Clinic best.

"I'm looking to find out what we are doing well, what we should celebrate, and what we can do better. So, for example, I've been informed that we are having some challenges with our appointment booking process and with the phone systems. So, we've already have a committee put together that's looking into that."

Looking at the root cause of every issue is key for Martinussen.

"The community is really important in that they're giving us the information and the data to find out what we need to do better. I know that not everyone in the communities that we serve has a primary health care provider, so we are always looking to recruit, and we're always looking to grow and meet those needs of the community."

The new CEO highlighted forward-thinking and innovation as areas that drew her to accept the role.

"I'm a country girl, and I've spent my career either in healthcare or community service, and this role with the Portage Clinic is a wonderful amalgamation of both worlds. That combination, as well as the values of the clinic, really align with my values. I'm very passionate about learning strategic growth, meeting community needs, and giving back to the community. Being a member of the team here at the clinic, working with the wonderful staff that we have, and working with the fabulous doctors, all of that can come together in one place for me here."

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She says her main goal is to support the staff and the organization's values and strive for high-quality care.

"My focus is making sure that I'm supporting our staff so that they can do the best possible job and fulfill the mission and vision of the organization. Personally, I'm a big believer in giving back to the community. I volunteer at both local, provincial, and national levels. I try to raise my kids with the values of, 'It takes a village' type of thing, so I'm looking forward to expanding my village to include Portage la Prairie."

Martinussen adds that the community has welcomed her with open arms, and she can't wait to continue to grow her roots through the clinic.