Another Eastern Health clinical chief resigns

Deana Stokes Sullivan
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CEO announces action plan to improve pathology lab

Another clinical chief has resigned an administrative position with Eastern Health amid continued controversy surrounding problems in its pathology department.

Dr. Jim Hutchinson tendered his resignation Friday as clinical chief of infection control, but will continue working as a microbiologist.

Dr. Jim Hutchinson

Another clinical chief has resigned an administrative position with Eastern Health amid continued controversy surrounding problems in its pathology department.

Dr. Jim Hutchinson tendered his resignation Friday as clinical chief of infection control, but will continue working as a microbiologist.

Eastern Health CEO Vickie Kaminski confirmed the latest resignation during a media briefing Monday regarding a review of the pathology lab.

Since Dr. Nash Denic, clinical chief of laboratory medicine, and two site chiefs at St. Clare's and the General Hospital tendered their leadership resignations last week, several other pathologists have been on sick leave.

Dr. Oscar Howell, Eastern Health's vice-president of medical services and diagnostics, said four or five are off sick this week.

Kaminski said concerns about the sick leave, which is presumably related to what's going on in the lab, have prompted the health authority to talk to University Health Network (UHN) in Ontario about the ability to do some telepathology work to prevent an interruption in workflow.

The report released Monday was based on a review of the pathology lab by the Institute of Quality Management in Healthcare (IQMH) in Ontario, arising from issues raised prior to the public release last month of cyclosporine testing errors due to equipment not being properly calibrated.

In a memo to Howell, dated Feb. 17, IQMH CEO Dr. Gregory Flynn said, "The key findings confirm that a dysfunctional relationship has evolved between the leader and some members of the group. It is rooted in poor communications and a lack of transparency around decisions that are then characterized as autocratic."

Team members 'hostile'

Flynn cited low morale, suspicion and distrust in the group, and rather than being collegial, some team members were "setting scores, being passive aggressive, hostile and intimidating."

Flynn went on to comment about workload, saying reductions for some pathologists but not others "deepens the building resentment and reinforces an oft heard observation that 'there is an inner circle who receives special treatment.'"

Kaminski said the findings are reason for concern, but present an opportunity to work with staff to improve working conditions.

She said Eastern Health will immediately put an action plan in place to address the report's recommendations.

"We will immediately begin a nationwide leadership search using a search firm for a clinical chief for our area," Kaminski said. Eastern health will also complete a review with UHN and incorporate its recommendations.

Consolidate labs, reduce paperwork

She said external consultants will be contracted to help with team and consensus building in "what has been deemed a dysfunctional area," a one-site consolidation of the labs under Eastern Health will be expedited as soon as possible and an electronic laboratory information system will be purchased and implemented to reduce paperwork.

In addition to doing the lab review, Kaminski said UHN has agreed to take on a supervisory role. Dr. Bayardo Perez-Ordonez, UHN's director of surgical pathology, was expected to arrive in St. John's Monday night to begin a senior leadership role in Eastern Health's laboratory medicine program with a focus on day-to-day operations.

"Our pathologists have, indeed, been under a significant amount of stress.

"They are certainly working in adverse conditions and they continue to provide care and support to the patients of Newfoundland and Labrador, and for that we are grateful," she said.

Asked his response to Health Minister Jerome Kennedy's concern last week that Kaminski should have been told about the IQMH report much earlier, Howell said the external review was requested after discussions with the chief of laboratory medicine and Flynn, who came in on short notice during the week of Feb. 8, met with the laboratory leadership team Feb. 12 and the pathologists Feb. 15.

Flynn e-mailed his final report to Howell Feb. 18.

"Normally, I would have read it that weekend," Howell said.

"I did not because I got involved in the cyclosporine issue and then I went on vacation on the 23rd of February, and, in fact, I only read the final report in detail this past weekend, but actions were already underway.

"When I returned from vacation on the 10th of March, I shared a copy with the CEO. The other part, for me, is that I had committed to the pathologists that I would, in fact, once I received the report, share it with them and meet with them. But much of the content had already been discussed with them on the 15th of February."

Howell planned to meet with the pathologists Monday afternoon following the media briefing.

dss@thetelegram.com

Organizations: General Hospital, Health Network, Institute of Quality Management

Geographic location: Ontario, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • I'm Danny Williams's boss
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    Our health care system is really suffering under the current leadership (i.e. Danny Williams and Jerome Kennedy).

    And with Mr. Williams's decision to get his medical needs met in the U.S., what does he care about the system left for the rest of us? He doesn't use it.

    It's time to find a solution and make health care in this province a priority.

  • Steve
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    It's about time some of these high paid Drs were held accountable instead of being elevated to pedestals.

  • Peggy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    And the health care situation just keeps
    rolling downhill faster and faster. Meanwhile, the resulting consequences of suffering and death keep rising.

  • House
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    To Bert et al sorry to see you are missing. Getting your man elected in Topsail has to be your first priority.

  • Steve
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    There is an age old saying- A couple of rotten apples will always spoil the barrel.

    I think it is time for Eastern Health to identify the so-called rotten apples and fire them. What has been released to the media thus far regarding this report speaks in generalities.

    It is time for Ms. Kaminski sort out the good apples from the bad apples and eliminate them. It is pointless to simply search for a couple of new administrators and hope that the problem goes away.

    Some of these people should not have the luxury of simply resigning (or going off on sick leave as has been previously reported) from their administrative positions and keeping their highly paid positions elsewhere in Eastern Health.

    I always have a firm belief - A leopard will never change its spots.

    Some of these people will never change if that is their personality and management style now it will be the same in the future.

    To use a health care analogy - If you are going to do cancer surgery you would aim to remove all of the tumor, not just part of it !

  • I C Clearly
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    ''In a memo to Howell, dated Feb. 17, IQMH CEO Dr. Gregory Flynn said, The key findings confirm that a dysfunctional relationship has evolved between the leader and some members of the group. It is rooted in poor communications and a lack of transparency around decisions that are then characterized as autocratic.''
    Does anyone else think those same words could be used to describe the relationship between government and Eastern Health?
    Just saying... :)

  • Sounding
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    Now I ask ya if you were a specialist looking for a position in Canada in pathology or anything medical for that matter and you read the headlines coming out of here for the past 2 years would you apply to EH? eh?

  • Graham
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    Kaminski said the findings are reason for concern, but present an opportunity to work with staff to improve working conditions.

    Kaminsky, this is not an opportunity. An opportunity is something extra in the positive, like icing on the cake. This is a last-chance-to-save-your-butt-and-do-the-job-you-were-hired-to-do required moment. The more you gloss things over, the more you look like the autocrat you really are.

    I always wondered how so many doctors could be wrong and Jerome and Kamakazi be so right. Oh that's right, they are part of the Good Old Boy's Club and they huddle together, chant, scratch together some form of knee-jerk reaction, blame others first and then stick to their guns no matter what. True stubborn, inflexible old school management style.

    Why couldn't Kamakazi have done her homework when she was first hired (at $340,000 annually) to prevent this from happening? I thought this is why she was brought onboard. I'd really like to know.

  • member of the 20%
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    Watch for it now...a Tory supporting head-hunting agency will be paid handsomely to find the proper replacements for all the clinical openings at EH. I'm betting they'll be screened by Dan's head honchos, likely led by Bob, interviewed by Jerome and wouldn't you know it...they'll share the same vision as Dan. And on top of that, their relocations won't come under the Public Tender Act; just like Mis-Vickie's.

  • Stop the Racket
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    I really cant understand why anyone wouldnt just line up to work for and be associated with the ever so popular King Danny Williams and his Clone Jerome Kennedy. All the temper Tantrums you can handle on a daily basis and no matter what goes wrong its always your fault. Really now who wouldnt want a job like that? I hear that as of today Danny and Jerome will be handing out a list of pre selected questions to any and all reporters at news conferences. Just ask them what they want to be asked. No tough questions please. Good news Danny and good news Jerome dont want to be bothered with anything that makes them look bad. Open Honest Transparent. Too bad neither of these three words is in the Danny Williams dictionary. Get out and vote today however you see fit my choice is ABCD.
    Anyone But Crazy Danny. Add a member to the Opposition or add a member to the Dictatorship. Its all up to you.

  • Mona
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    The infighting and blame laying which we saw in Cameron seems to be still alive and well. Also the problems which led to the Cameron seem to be alive and well. Can't we all see what is happening? There is no real communication between the EHD and Government which might effect a solution to these serious challenges to our health care system. If a system has lost the ability to properly screen the medical problems which require treatment, it throws doubt and concern on all treatments and processes. Mr. Williams didn't have to take the chance with his health that most Newdoundlanders and Labradorians are taking beause of his government's inability to take the blame and fix whatever is causing these repeated monumental errors. Once and for all Mr. Williams put your colossal energy and brand behind this administrative and technical mess and help save OUR lives.

  • I'm Danny Williams's boss
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    Our health care system is really suffering under the current leadership (i.e. Danny Williams and Jerome Kennedy).

    And with Mr. Williams's decision to get his medical needs met in the U.S., what does he care about the system left for the rest of us? He doesn't use it.

    It's time to find a solution and make health care in this province a priority.

  • Steve
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    It's about time some of these high paid Drs were held accountable instead of being elevated to pedestals.

  • Peggy
    July 01, 2010 - 20:09

    And the health care situation just keeps
    rolling downhill faster and faster. Meanwhile, the resulting consequences of suffering and death keep rising.

  • House
    July 01, 2010 - 20:08

    To Bert et al sorry to see you are missing. Getting your man elected in Topsail has to be your first priority.

  • Steve
    July 01, 2010 - 20:08

    There is an age old saying- A couple of rotten apples will always spoil the barrel.

    I think it is time for Eastern Health to identify the so-called rotten apples and fire them. What has been released to the media thus far regarding this report speaks in generalities.

    It is time for Ms. Kaminski sort out the good apples from the bad apples and eliminate them. It is pointless to simply search for a couple of new administrators and hope that the problem goes away.

    Some of these people should not have the luxury of simply resigning (or going off on sick leave as has been previously reported) from their administrative positions and keeping their highly paid positions elsewhere in Eastern Health.

    I always have a firm belief - A leopard will never change its spots.

    Some of these people will never change if that is their personality and management style now it will be the same in the future.

    To use a health care analogy - If you are going to do cancer surgery you would aim to remove all of the tumor, not just part of it !

  • I C Clearly
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    ''In a memo to Howell, dated Feb. 17, IQMH CEO Dr. Gregory Flynn said, The key findings confirm that a dysfunctional relationship has evolved between the leader and some members of the group. It is rooted in poor communications and a lack of transparency around decisions that are then characterized as autocratic.''
    Does anyone else think those same words could be used to describe the relationship between government and Eastern Health?
    Just saying... :)

  • Sounding
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    Now I ask ya if you were a specialist looking for a position in Canada in pathology or anything medical for that matter and you read the headlines coming out of here for the past 2 years would you apply to EH? eh?

  • Graham
    July 01, 2010 - 19:56

    Kaminski said the findings are reason for concern, but present an opportunity to work with staff to improve working conditions.

    Kaminsky, this is not an opportunity. An opportunity is something extra in the positive, like icing on the cake. This is a last-chance-to-save-your-butt-and-do-the-job-you-were-hired-to-do required moment. The more you gloss things over, the more you look like the autocrat you really are.

    I always wondered how so many doctors could be wrong and Jerome and Kamakazi be so right. Oh that's right, they are part of the Good Old Boy's Club and they huddle together, chant, scratch together some form of knee-jerk reaction, blame others first and then stick to their guns no matter what. True stubborn, inflexible old school management style.

    Why couldn't Kamakazi have done her homework when she was first hired (at $340,000 annually) to prevent this from happening? I thought this is why she was brought onboard. I'd really like to know.

  • member of the 20%
    July 01, 2010 - 19:55

    Watch for it now...a Tory supporting head-hunting agency will be paid handsomely to find the proper replacements for all the clinical openings at EH. I'm betting they'll be screened by Dan's head honchos, likely led by Bob, interviewed by Jerome and wouldn't you know it...they'll share the same vision as Dan. And on top of that, their relocations won't come under the Public Tender Act; just like Mis-Vickie's.

  • Stop the Racket
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    I really cant understand why anyone wouldnt just line up to work for and be associated with the ever so popular King Danny Williams and his Clone Jerome Kennedy. All the temper Tantrums you can handle on a daily basis and no matter what goes wrong its always your fault. Really now who wouldnt want a job like that? I hear that as of today Danny and Jerome will be handing out a list of pre selected questions to any and all reporters at news conferences. Just ask them what they want to be asked. No tough questions please. Good news Danny and good news Jerome dont want to be bothered with anything that makes them look bad. Open Honest Transparent. Too bad neither of these three words is in the Danny Williams dictionary. Get out and vote today however you see fit my choice is ABCD.
    Anyone But Crazy Danny. Add a member to the Opposition or add a member to the Dictatorship. Its all up to you.

  • Mona
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    The infighting and blame laying which we saw in Cameron seems to be still alive and well. Also the problems which led to the Cameron seem to be alive and well. Can't we all see what is happening? There is no real communication between the EHD and Government which might effect a solution to these serious challenges to our health care system. If a system has lost the ability to properly screen the medical problems which require treatment, it throws doubt and concern on all treatments and processes. Mr. Williams didn't have to take the chance with his health that most Newdoundlanders and Labradorians are taking beause of his government's inability to take the blame and fix whatever is causing these repeated monumental errors. Once and for all Mr. Williams put your colossal energy and brand behind this administrative and technical mess and help save OUR lives.