Best way to gain confidence is ‘performing well,’ Kaminski says

Steve
Steve Bartlett
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Eastern Health CEO takes part in online forum at thetelegram.com

Eastern Health CEO Vickie Kaminski answers questions during a live online question and answer session on The Telegram’s website Tuesday. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

Telegram readers asked, and Vickie Kaminski answered.

Eastern Health’s CEO spent an hour on thetelegram.com Tuesday responding to questions. The topics ranged from bedside care to her renumeration.

“What is your annual salary and perks?” asked “Sandy.”

Kaminski’s reply: “Presently annual salary is $352,240. In addition I receive a $10,000 car allowance, and $35,000 in lieu of benefits for pension and housing.”

All of her replies were arguably as candid, and yet she deliberated carefully on everything she posted.

The Telegram asked Kaminski to participate in the forum because of recently announced cost-saving measures.

Eastern Health is eliminating the equivalent of 550 positions over two years, through attrition and things like reducing overtime.

The moves are expected to save $43 million.

The cuts haven’t sat well with Eastern Health’s unionized employees, and some of their concerns were raised in Tuesday morning’s questions.

“Being a nurse with (Eastern Health) I was shocked about the comment that we have the highest number of hours at the bedside than the rest of the country,” wrote someone who signed in as “guest.”

“One would think that this is a good thing isn't it? The amount of time I spend at the bedside is not near enough what I would like to which is due (sic) to patient workload! Ongoing evaluation and assessment of the patient is needed to provide the best care possible. If we are not frequently at the bedside how can we even do this?” continued “guest.”

“Hours at the bedside are not necessarily the issue,” Kaminski replied. “The cost of those hours is our biggest inefficiency. For example, if we are using a nurse at overtime, that costs us 18 hours of care for a 12 hour shift. So becoming better at how we staff and utilize the hours we have will lead us to a more efficient operation.”

The CEO noted there are times when many extra hours of care are needed for some patients and times when fewer hours are required.

“Our problem has been an inflexibility in determining which is which, sometimes brought about by automatic staff replacements from central staffing, sometimes from inconsistent workload measurement, and sometimes from poor management,” she said.

There was also a question pertaining to Eastern Health’s image.

“Robert” wrote: “One of the big things that worries me is the overall lack of public support of our health care system. This has been the case as far back as the start of the public reviews ... and has not changed. How do you plan on gaining back this support from the people of this province?”

To that, Kaminski replied, “I have seen a minor shift in public trust and confidence and actually hear very frequently from people in the general public that they feel we are more open and forthcoming which helps with public trust. The best way to gain their confidence, though, is by performing well, and that is the goal of every employee at Eastern Health. We will continue to monitor our patient outcomes and report on them regularly.”

In her closing remarks, Kaminski asked people to be patient.

“I know there is some skepticism and a lot of concern about our efficiency plans,” she wote. “I would ask you to give us the opportunity to make some changes, evaluate them and determine our success at achieving these goals. We will keep quality of care and access to that care as our top priority.”

sbartlett@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @SteveBartlett_

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Recent comments

  • wayne harvey
    June 13, 2012 - 18:09

    Ms. Kaminski has a tough job ahead. If she can put an end to the top heavy aspect of health care ie the abundence of nurses who do anything but nurse and have no intention of doing anything but striving for that all too available nine to five Monday to Friday position then she has done a good job. For the good of us all please send a person from upper management to some of the more peripheral areas of health care to observe just what goes on under the guise of patient care. The Bliss Murphy Cancer Centre comes to mind as does the five people who sit in the operating room lounge on Saturday and Sunday when no surgery is on the books and doing such medical things as knit or read. It goes on and on . As a former health care worker with considerable experience I now tell you as the people responsible for the bottom line to get back to the basics and have an informal look around at what realloy goes on in health care. And , please , do it without fanfare and bugles so the people in question dont know you are coming.

  • California Pete from NFLD
    June 13, 2012 - 12:36

    You got to be kidding . Time for a pay cut or blow her out. I will take the job for less.

  • Ed. A.
    June 13, 2012 - 11:18

    if good performance is the way to gain confidence, eastern health will never have much confidence. there doomed.

  • Enid
    June 13, 2012 - 10:10

    There were 3 major hospitals in St. John's excluding the Janeway, ie, Grace General, St. Clare's and the Health Sciences. In hospital reform Grace General was closed. At the time we were told that for efficiency purposes the Diagnostic Depts, ie, Laboratory, X-ray Dept, Nuclear Medicine , etc., would be open for longer hours with two shifts of staff to accomodate the closing of this facility. We all know that didn't happen. Hence, there are long waits for all procedures, and the way medicine in practiced today, without these results there is a delay in diagnoses. If you are dealing with overworked staff, facilities that are not utilized to their maximum, you are going to end up with a defective health care system which is what we are dealing with now. I wonder how much the government paid to have these polls done and isn't that the job of the people in charge? Shouldn't it be part of their job to know these things?

  • TR
    June 13, 2012 - 08:58

    $350,000 +++ ??? Why did it take years to find out how inefficient EH is run? To pay her that much money, I would expect her to be a bit more efficient in finding the efficiencies.

  • Sue Kelland-Dyer
    June 13, 2012 - 07:00

    New Poll shows only 8% #newfoundland #labrador satisifed with hospitals? http://bit.ly/LT5t2H on a day Kaminski headlines on confidence.

    • Wince
      June 13, 2012 - 09:05

      404. Not found. I assume it will come back up later, Even so, polls are useless. The numbers will tell you whatever you want to pull out of them. As well, how were the questions worded for the poll? It's common knowledge that the wording of questions can influence results.