Why I Respect Eastern Health's CEO
These days, when you think of health care in Newrfoundland, chances are you think of errors in breast cancer testing that led to the Commission of Inquiry on Hormonre Receptor Testing headed by the Honourable Margaret A. Cameron. Maybe you think of the fact that when former Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams needed heart surgery, he went to Florida. The point is, for many Newfoundlanders, Eastern Health has problems that need to be fixed. Since her arrival in June 2009, CEO Vickie Kaminski has tried to be that hospital fixer. In 2009, Kaminski was recruited from Sudbury Region Hospital, where she dealt with a $30 million deficit by stopping construction of a new hospital dead in its' tracks...and received death threats in the process.
If you missed the show on Saturday, you can listen today at 1130 am (330 pm NT) on CBC Radio One. Or, you can listen here.
A nurse by training, Kaminski is tough yet approachable. Since 2009, she's not only been the boss of Eastern Health, but region's very public face. Newfoundlanders have been giving her an earful ever since.
I first heard Kaminski talk with extreme frankness about the many challenges at Eastern Health at a conference for leaders in health care put on by the Canadian Medical Association. Eastern health is a network of hospitals, clinics and doctors' offices which serves a population of nearly 300,000 extending west from St. John's to communities big and small on the Avalon, Burin and Bonavista Peninsulas. It goes without saying Kaminski has to put systems in place to help prevent errors at Eastern Health. She may also have to replace as many as 30% of the more than 13,000 health care employees in the region who are planning to retire at age 55.
Whether you like the job Kaminski is doing or not, you have to admire her willingness to let me follow her around for a couple of days last Fall. Kaminski is candid about the problems that need to be fixed. I can tell you that Kaminski is not the first hospital or health region CEO I've approached for an interview. But she's the first to say "sure, why not?"
To me, that counts for something.