By JAYMIE L. WHITE
Special to The Appalachian
STEPHENVILLE – Western Health’s annual general meeting was held virtually on Friday afternoon, Sept. 24. The guest speaker for this year’s AGM report was Ivan J. White, who presented on the Indigenous health experience. The meeting opened with a land acknowledgment from Bryson Webb, chairperson of the board of trustees for Western Health, and topics included the audited financial report for the last fiscal year, work done by Western Health, and the Journey of Collaboration presentation.
Brian Hudson, chair of the finance and property committee, began by stating the receivables for Western Health increased by $8.7 million, banking debt increased $25.6 million, payables and approvals increased $3.4 million, deferred contributions/operating increased $1.8 million, deferred contributions/capital increased $5.9 million, total expenditures decreased by $18.5 million, deficit increased by $16 million, and accrued vacation expense increased $1.5 million.
Hudson noted the impact of COVID-19 on many of the costs accumulated during the fiscal year, as well as the partnership with the new Corner Brook hospital. The audited financial report was approved unanimously.
Following the report, Hudson moved that the Board of Trustees appoint Grant Thornton and Brian Barker, CPA, as board auditors for 2021/2022. Both motions were approved.
Western Health work overview
Bryson Webb shared an overview of some of the work that was done by the board in 2020/2021.
“Our AGM provides an opportunity to reflect on the work that has taken place over the last year, and to consider our priorities for the coming year.”
Webb stated Western Health is focusing on various collaborations with groups such as Qalipu First Nation, Western Regional School of Nursing, Grenfell Campus and Memorial University, and the Mi’kmaq community.
“We know we are stronger together, and this engagement enhances our ability to work together to improve the health of our population.”
Next he pointed out that this year marks the first year of Western Health’s strategic plan for 2021-2023. Numerous surveys, consultation sessions, analyses, and environmental scans were completed to deal with the three major strategic issues the plan will focus on.
The first strategic issue is the people of Western Health. According to Webb, the hope is to enhance workforce capacity and capability by enabling an engaged, skilled, well-led and healthy workforce.
The second strategic issue is quality and safety. Western Health wants to improve quality and safety across the organization in many areas by identifying priority areas for improvement.
The third strategic issue is innovation. Western Health wants to improve services through innovative models of service delivery while also improving access to those services.
Presentation by Ivan J. White
Ivan J. White opened the presentation by explaining what the ‘journey of collaboration’ means.
“It’s a partnership,” said White. “The core of this project is a partnership, an engagement, and it reminds me that I am a recording device for the community above all else.”
The goal is to partner with Mi’kmaq people in order to develop an engagement strategy and implementation plans to co-design health and wellness programs and services in Western Newfoundland.
White listed the seven themes that were created based on community feedback, which offered 36 recommendations on priorities. The seven themes are: support for Mi’kmaq wellness, culturally influenced services, Mi’kmaq representation, policy change, healthcare provider communication and education, Mi’kmaq contribution to space, and community outreach and health promotion.
“It wasn’t, you gave me one answer and now I will leave and go about my business,” said White. “Because I value community so much, I had to return to the community time and time again for clarification, to ask them if they could verify and if they were willing to share more. It wasn’t a closed process; it was continuous engagement in a loop.”
White said that the four main things that surrounded everything else and were incredibly important to the whole process are dignity and respect, information sharing, participation and collaboration.
“Listening to all the parties, everyone involved, gathering ideas and perspectives, is crucial to any process. Approaching all aspects as equals is fundamental to the sustainability and positive advancements for any initiatives,” said White. “The explicit purpose is to show the strengths of what comes when you intertwine the three core principles: sharing, inclusion, and collaboration, with the whole being exponentially stronger than the sum of its parts.”
Highlights and Accomplishments
Interim CEO of Western Health, Michelle House, shared a few of the highlights for Western Health over the past year, and also provided an overview of some upcoming challenges.
Some of the highlights included the measures, strategies, and resources in place to assist people, both staff and members of the community, during the pandemic. They provided virtual visits when physical visits couldn’t happen, managed the backlog that resulted from increased patients during COVID-19, and the process by which COVID vaccines were quickly and successfully administered.
Included in the overview of upcoming challenges were the psychological impact the pandemic has had on front line healthcare workers, the integration of a provincial integrated staff scheduling system within acute and long-term care settings and working with counterparts across the province to move towards healthcare being more fiscally sustainable.
“Throughout all the challenges and changes that were made, our staff, managers and physicians have gone above and beyond to ensure the safety of our patients, clients, and residents, as well as each other,” said House. “All done while providing excellent care and services in our region. They continue to be patient-centered and to provide and prioritize patient safety and I’m very grateful for all of their efforts.”