‘Progress’ in the face of ‘adversity’

Daniel
Daniel MacEachern
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Health authority’s AGM focuses on year’s accomplishments

Eastern Health CEO Vickie Kaminski speaks with reporters following its annual general meeting at the Sheraton Hotel Wednesday afternoon. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

Eastern Health’s accreditation re-port says the health-care organization has made “significant pro-gress” in the face of “significant adversity.”

The report, released Wednesday at Eastern Health’s annual general meeting at the Sheraton Hotel, gives the organization a score of 91 per cent in a new rating system.

Eastern Health president and CEO Vickie Kaminski called it “an incredible achievement” for the organization, which saw surveyors from Accreditation Canada visiting 17 of Eastern Health’s facilities last month.

“So it means we’ve done well,” said Kaminski. “But we still have some work to do in key areas, such as the effective transfer of information, the prevention of falls among our patients, our clients and our residents, and making sure that patients are aware of their own roles in patient safety. We also need to make some improvements to the physical space in some of our older facilities, to make sure that we meet the applicable laws, regulations and codes.”

Accreditation Canada singled out the authority’s breast toxicity management pharmacy program for special recognition, identifying it as a “leading practice” — demonstrating high quality leadership and service delivery.

The program works to minimize the side-effects of chemotherapy among breast cancer patients.

Apart from the accreditation, the meeting focused on Eastern Health’s accomplishments from the most recent fiscal year (ending March 31), including its new smoke-free policy, the vaccination of almost 70 per cent of the region’s population against the H1N1 virus, and the establishment of a working group to address recommendations from the Cameron Inquiry, the judicial inquiry into the health authority’s mishandling of breast cancer test results — one of the examples of the “adversity” the health authority has faced.

Kaminski says 80 per cent of the inquiry’s recommendations have been implemented, with the remainder underway.

For Kaminski, the highlight of her first full year at the health authority helm was meeting so many dedicated people who work at — or visit — Eastern Health facilities.

“So it means we’ve done well. But we still have some work to do in key areas, such as the effective transfer of information, the prevention of falls among our patients, our clients and our residents, and making sure that patients are aware of their own roles in patient safety. We also need to make some improvements to the physical space in some of our older facilities, to make sure that we meet the applicable laws, regulations and codes.” Vickie Kaminski

“It’s just been getting to know the place and a sense of the good things that are being done,” she said after the meeting, adding that the authority’s increasing openness has meant dealing with mistakes under intense public scrutiny.

“Every time we turn around, we have to be talking publicly about something that’s not gone well. That’s a huge challenge for us, because it’s hard to keep morale up if all that you’re ever talking about publicly are the things that go wrong, and there’s no recognition for those that you did well, it’s hard to get morale up, it’s hard to get people excited,” she said. “Employee engagement has been a big challenge for us. We had very, very low engagement scores on our survey last year, so we’re hoping in the next two years to make a difference and see people feel better about where they work.”

Eastern Health also successfully recruited 57 new permanent physicians throughout the region, and more than 300 nurses, although the authority needs still more, Kaminski said.

The report also outlined health indicators in the region, with 25.5 per cent of residents in the region being obese, compared with 17.2 per cent nationally, and a diabetes rate of 8.1 per cent, against the Canadian rate of 5.9 per cent.

“We have public health and population health responsibilities, so we’re looking at how we can help people. Obesity in kids is an issue for us, we want to try to have some inroads in that.”

But the health news isn’t all bad: just 13.6 per cent of residents in the Eastern Health region report feeling “quite a lot” of stress, compared with 22.3 per cent of Canadians.

“People here are wonderful. They’ve got the right attitude about life,” she said, laughing.

dmaceachern@thetelegram.com Twitter: TelegramDaniel

Organizations: Sheraton Hotel

Geographic location: Eastern Health, Canada, H1N1

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Recent comments

  • mary
    October 28, 2010 - 21:29

    My experiences with the health care system over this past year have been negative. I don't know where the improvements have been, I sure as heck never met any! The smoke free policy is a laugh, come on, it is something written on paper. How can this be touted as an accomplishment? I had more faith in the system a year ago! Not good enough people, just not good enough.

  • HR quacks
    October 28, 2010 - 09:40

    wow, I feel safer now, was she on the board that decieded this false propaganda. Theres nothing good in self praise. The government wants to be like china now and control the media.