Kaminski gives readers some answers

Steve Bartlett sbartlett@thetelegram.com
Published on June 12, 2012
Eastern Health CEO Vickie Kaminski responds to readers questions through a text-based program live on The Telegram's website this morning. — Photo by Steve Bartlett/The Telegram

The CEO of Eastern Health spent an hour answering reader questions on various issues on thetelegram.com this morning.

Through a text-based program, Vickie Kaminski replied to queries on issues ranging from her salary to the cost of bedside care.

“Hours at the bedside are not necessarily the issue,” she said. “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.”

Eastern Health recently announced it was eliminating the equivalent of 550 full-time positions, through attrition and measures like reducing overtime.

The measure is expected to save the health authority $43 million.

The Telegram asked Kaminski to participate in the reader Q&A after the announced cuts, which have been met with opposition from the health authority’s unionized employees.

Regarding bedside hours, she elaborated in answering the question, there are times when Eastern Health needs many extra hours of care for some patients and times when less 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,” Kaminiski said.

“Bringing all these things into line will make us more efficient as we provide appropriate patient care.”

Kaminski answered more than 15 questions in the hour, taking time to think and type out her responses.

In her closing remarks, she asked for the public to be patient.

“I know there is some skepticism and a lot of concern about our efficiency plans,” she wrote. “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.”

In case you were wondering, in reponse to the salary question, Kaminski replied, “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.”

To read an archived version of the entire Q&A, click HERE.

As well, see Wednesday’s print and electronic editions for more coverage.