New boss of Baffin health board begins the clean-up
IQALUIT – Boosting staff morale and cleaning up remaining financial problems are two priorities on a checklist of seven big items on Ken MacRury’s to-do list.
Ken MacRury, appointed interim chief executive officer of the Baffin Regional Health and Social Services board on November 24, told board members his priorities are to “resolve many of the problems that are obvious to the people who’ve cared to look at them.”
“There are extensive issues at the hospital, at the administration end, that have got to be resolved,” MacRury told the board when he met with them for the first time in Iqaluit Monday.
“We’ll be setting up small working groups to tackle some of the major problems the board is dealing with,” MacRury added.
MacRury takes over from Pat Kermeen, who’s currently on sick leave. Board chair Dennis Patterson said she’s expected to be on leave at least until late January.
The new CEO has already met with staff in an attempt to boost low staff morale, a problem MacRury says permeates the system.
“The staff is demoralized and many have left,” he said. “At the board management level, there has not been an emphasis on human resources.
“There’s been change in just about everything and very little stability,” he told board members. “This has caused a high degree of anxiety in the staff. If we don’t have to do it immediately, we’re not going to do it.”
But, he admitted, there are several pressing issues. At the end of the month, the hospital’s three- year accreditation expires. Accreditation status certifies that the hospital meets at least the minimum health care service requirements.
MacRury said he’s also completing a cost-benefit analysis of medical services provided in both Montreal and Ottawa.
Health Minister Kelvin Ng ordered the analysis after the board decided to move its southern specialist service from the McGill-Baffin program in Montreal to the Ottawa Heart Institute earlier this year.
Medevac service needs replacement
The future of medevac nursing services is another area MacRury said needs immediate attention and he criticized the previous administration for letting it drag on unresolved for nearly a year.
“The problem is recognized and it’s been going on for 10 months to try and resolve it,” he said. “It’s been talk, talk, talk and no decisions.”
Last February, the six-member medevac nursing team was disbanded. The nurses working on that team were trained in critical care and accompanied patients who needed to be medevaced from a community. How to replace that service in the long-term has been under review since then.
In the short-term, the board contracts two professional nurses for the service. That contract expires in mid-January.
“This has been extensively reviewed,” MacRury said, adding his staff is currently preparing a request for proposals for the provision of this service.
Doctors, nurses badly needed
Recruiting physicians and nurses are two other problem areas, he pointed out. MacRury said at one point the number of physicians at the hospital dipped to as low as two from eight.
In the communities, the situation with nursing staff is similar. In Igloolik, for example, the nursing station only has two of the four nurses it needs.
Finally, MacRury will be meeting with the director of finance from the GNWT’s department of health.
“We could have a finance problem,” he warned board members, adding the territorial government covered off the board’s $400,000 deficit last year.