'Depoliticize' health care, Vickie Kaminksi urged by Alta. critic

The outgoing head of Newfoundland and Labrador’s health authority has been hired to take the helm at Alberta Health Services and she could face political challenges in the job.

Registered nurse is outgoing boss of Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest health authority

Vickie Kaminski is taking over as CEO and president of Alberta Health Services on June 2, the province announced on Friday. (Government of Alberta)

The new head of Alberta Health Services is being urged to watch her back as she prepares to take the helm of the organization.

Vickie Kaminski, the outgoing boss of Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest health authority, told reporters in St. John’s on Friday that she has resigned as president and CEO of the Eastern Regional Health Authority in that province to take the job in Alberta. The province's Liberal leader — who is also a medical doctor — says she will need to tread carefully given how closely the government meddles in the health care authority.

"We have to depoliticize the delivery of health care. Anyone who has occupied the position of CEO has been unable to make decisions to run the system," said Raj Sherman. "In fact, the government removed their own boards that they appointed."

Last October Dr. Chris Eagle stepped down as president and CEO of AHS midway through his five-year contract, saying it was time for “fresh eyes and fresh energy.”

His tenure was marked by a scandal over bonus pay for top officials that culminated in the firing of the entire board of directors last summer. 

Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne said he is delighted that Kaminski — a registered nurse with two MBAs and 35 years of experience in health care and administration — is the new president and CEO of AHS and that they see eye-to-eye what her new role will be.

“I know that Ms. Kaminski shares my view that the most important role of the CEO and AHS’ senior management team is to ensure that our front-line health care workers have the support they need to continue to focus on what’s most important —​  patients,” said Health Minister Fred Horne in a written statement.

Kaminski helped rebuild Nfld. health care: premier

Kaminski became the head of Eastern Health in 2009 when a public inquiry into botched breast cancer screening was wrapping up.

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Tom Marshall issued a statement on Friday thanking Kaminski for her work there.

“Ms. Kaminski came to our province at a difficult time and she has helped restore faith in our health care system, something for which we will forever be grateful," he said.

"While we are certainly saddened to see her go, on behalf of the people of the province, I want to wish Ms. Kaminski all the best in her future endeavours."

Before moving to Newfoundland, Kaminski was the president and CEO of Sudbury Regional Hospital in Ontario.

Kaminski starts her new job on June 2. 

AHS says she will receive $540,000 in annual salary and has agreed to a three-year term.

With files from Amanda Connolly/CBC