Nova Scotia

IWK Health Centre hires its first chief operating officer

The IWK Health Centre has hired a new chief operating officer, the latest step by the children's hospital as it tries to move on from an expense scandal that claimed its top two executives.

Amanda Whitewood takes the job after serving as interim chief financial officer in wake of expense scandal

The IWK Health Centre has hired Amanda Whitewood as its chief operating officer. (Shaina Luck/CBC)

The IWK Health Centre has hired a new chief operating officer, the latest step by the children's hospital as it tries to move on from an expense scandal that claimed its top two executives last year.

Amanda Whitewood will begin in the new role April 2. Whitewood has served as the hospital's interim chief financial officer since Stephen D'Arcy resigned last fall after it was revealed he helped alter and downplay expenses of former CEO Tracy Kitch.

Kitch resigned after it was revealed she expensed thousands of dollars in personal charges to an IWK corporate credit card.

The chief operating officer role is a new one for the IWK. Whitewood said it takes in not only the financial duties she's been overseeing, but will also have her working with patient-care providers to help oversee capital redevelopment and new spaces and deal with front-line staff needs.

"It's really understanding their needs and incorporating them into a sustainable business model for the health centre," said Whitewood, who was previously the chief financial officer for the Halifax Regional Municipality.

Having such a broad portfolio, which also includes information management, allows for better oversight of the hospital's entire operation, she said.

Whitewood is the IWK's first chief operating officer. She has served as interim chief financial officer since the fall. (IWK)

Whitewood said the hospital continues to work to implement the recommendations of a financial report the board ordered last summer after CBC News revealed the situation with Kitch's expenses.

If she's to make other changes, Whitewood said it would come after she has time to talk with her colleagues and get a sense of what they believe is required.

"From my experience and my background, the folks in a complex organization appreciate clarity and appreciate being held accountable and holding each other accountable for strategies," she said.

"So that's what we're doing and we're ensuring that people understand what's important to be delivered — how budgets run, how they're operated and how we ensure that the health centre is responsible and taking care of taxpayer dollars, and we take that role very seriously."

A police investigation into Kitch's expenses continues and the province's auditor general is also investigating the hospital.

A spokesperson for the IWK said the search process would begin soon to find a new permanent CEO.

About the Author

Michael Gorman is a reporter in Nova Scotia whose coverage areas include Province House, rural communities, and health care. Contact him with story ideas at michael.gorman@cbc.ca