Ken MacRury is new CEO of Baffin health board

The Baffin’s former regional director is the new chief executive officer of the health board.

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

ANNETTE BOURGEOIS
Nunatsiaq News

IQALUIT The new chief executive officer for the Baffin health board has been given two instructions get the planning for a new regional hospital back on track and complete a review of southern specialist services before the end of the year.

Dennis Patterson, the chair of the Baffin Regional Health and Social Services Board, announced the temporary appointment of Ken MacRury to the CEO position in a press release Monday.

The announcement comes after weeks of speculation about the future of Pat Kermeen, who’s held the position since last fall.

MacRury, a career bureaucrat with the GNWT, will fill the job while Kermeen is on sick leave, Patterson said, speculating that that leave will extend at least into late January.

When, or if, Kermeen will return to the post at that time is under review.

“We’re still discussing Pat Kermeen’s future with the board,” Patterson said about the length of MacRury’s appointment. “He’s acting for the time being. It looks like she’s going to be on sick leave for some time.”

MacRury, who’s taken a leave from his position as executive director of the Nunavut Research Institute, represented the territorial government on the health board when he was a GNWT regional director several years ago.

MacRury’s job is essentially to tidy up issues which have been in flux during the past several months.

Patterson said his “very clear instructions” to MacRury include overseeing the planning for the new hospital and completing a review of the delivery of southern specialist services to Baffin residents.

He added MacRury has also been asked to develop a communication plan between the board, its emloyees and the public.

In his review of southern services, MacRury will visit medical operations in both Montreal and Ottawa. He’s expected to make recommendations to the board on long-term arrangements for southern specialist services by the end of the calendar year.

Health Minister Kelvin Ng asked for a cost-benefit analysis and review after the board decided to move specialist services from Montreal to Ottawa earlier this year.

“It’s not just a need to respond to the minister, the reality is we cannot afford to continue supporting two services for much longer,” Patterson said.

When the board announced it would move specialist services, it also agreed to grandfather current relationships between Baffin residents and Montreal doctors. The result has been a duplication of southern services.

A majority still going to Montreal

“The health board has been sending new patients those without a previously existing relationship with a physician to Ottawa, but those who have been in the care of specialists from Montreal are being sent there,” Patterson said.

“The patients’ preferences are certainly resulting in significant numbers, in fact probably a majority of patients, being sent to Montreal. Obviously, it can’t be sustained long term.”

He added discussions have reopened with the Montreal-McGill program about its services.

“Everything is being looked at afresh and they seem quite willing to reopen discussions with us,” Patterson said. “It seems that no bridges have been burnt.”

MacRury will report to the board when it meets early next month in Iqaluit. He will also oversee a public meeting on Dec. 4 in Iqaluit to discuss the future of health issues in the region.

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