Health P.E.I. unveils new structure, new vision at AGM | Saltwire – SaltWire Network

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. — Health P.E.I. turned over a new leaf at its annual general meeting on Oct. 27 in Summerside.
The Crown corporation has a new strategic plan, announced board chair Derek Key, and with it, a new mission and vision.
Key said the corporation hasn’t always functioned transparently, to the public or its staff and members.
“One of the continuing areas of friction and frustration since the creation of Health P.E.I. more than 10 years ago, has been the lack of clarity in the roles, responsibilities and accountabilities between the department of health and Health P.E.I.,” said Key.
Key also announced an accountability framework, developed with Health Minister Ernie Hudson.
Key calls the framework “a huge step.”
“I have confidence we’ll reap the benefits of this framework over the coming years.”
Also in the past year the board has created a new leadership structure, implemented a set of bylaws, hired a director of human resources and hired a new CEO, Dr. Michael Gardam.
“Leading from behind is not acceptable, we are required to lead by example,” said Key, adding later, “There’s always the real possibility that we’ll fail. What I can assure you of, is that we will not fail because of lack of effort. If we fail it will be because we have failed to inspire, motivate and to lead the incredibly talented health-care team who are committed to providing the best health care available. It starts at the top.”
Health P.E.I. unveiled a three-year strategic plan focused on four main goals at its Oct. 27 AGM.
Gardam, who joined Health P.E.I.12 months ago, originally taking the COO job, said the 7,000 Health P.E.I. workers are the first priority.
“Our staff need to be seen, heard and respected. People need to feel like they are a valued member of the team,” said Gardham.
Part of that is creating a culture of psychological safety.
“If people have concerns, they have to be able to speak up,” said Gardam, without fearing that “someone’s going to chop their head off.”
Gardam said fostering such a culture will pay dividends later down the road.
“You have to provide a supportive culture for people to feel able to do that (bring forward a new idea). Right now, I would argue that the culture of health in P.E.I. is it’s pretty risky to stick your neck out,” he said.
“I see part of my job is to support our team, that — despite if people come after them because their project didn’t work — it’s my job to protect them,” said Gardam. “I have no doubt of the innovation potential of Health P.E.I., but until it’s safer for people to bring those ideas forward and run with them, we may not hear that much about it.”
Gardam also said health care centred around every Islander having a family physician is not forward-thinking.
“We have to get away from the old model where physicians are the centre of the universe,” said Gardam. “As long as we keep in that 1970s doctor-centric model, we’re not going to move into the 21st century. The doctors that were recruiting, by the way, are already in the 21st century.”
Health P.E.I. unveiled a three-year strategic plan at its annual general meeting Oct. 27 in Summerside. The Crown corporation has established a new set of bylaws and organizational structure as well as a new mission statement and vision.
There are approximately 700 vacancies for physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, occupational therapists and other providers, Gardham said.
However, Health P.E.I. does not have control over recruitment or retention of physicians, nurses or any other health-care providers.
It doesn’t oversee any of the operations of Island EMS, either.
“Health P.E.I. relies upon the Public Service Commission to classify positions, for advertising, for promoting job opportunities, and for ultimately filling that huge gap between Health P.E.I. identifying a need and getting the positions filled,” said Key.
Health P.E.I.’s budget is more than $800 million — that’s well over half the P.E.I budget, said Key. Yet, any expense of more than $100,000 must be presented to the Treasury Board for approval.
“I only raise these things because it’s important that we have an appreciation for the limited independence of Health P.E.I. and the commensurate requirement to work co-operatively, collaboratively and I would say over the past year — patiently — with many other participants who have control over the many of the elements of what we generally think of as health-care delivery.”
The Health P.E.I. annual general meeting was also the chance to acknowledge and celebrate staff who are making positive changes in the Island’s health care system with the Leadership and Excellence in Quality and Safety awards.
“The awards are the board’s opportunity to recognize exceptional initiatives of health care teams who have developed and implemented an initiative that improves the quality and safety of patient care to Island residents,” said the committee chairwoman, Helen Flynn.
Ten initiatives were considered by the committee.
Alison Jenkins is a freelance reporter with the SaltWire Network in Prince Edward Island.
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