Hospital boards merge … kind of

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Brenda Richardson, CKHA board chair, celebrates with CEO Colin Patey and St. Joseph Health Services chair Gail Rumble at the announcement recently of a voluntary merging of the two boards into one entity.
Brenda Richardson, CKHA board chair, celebrates with CEO Colin Patey and St. Joseph Health Services chair Gail Rumble at the announcement recently of a voluntary merging of the two boards into one entity.

 

Looking to the future of community healthcare systems and patient-centred care, the Chatham Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) announced the voluntary integration of two of the three boards of directors that make up the current governance model.

In 1998, Public General Hospital (PGH) and St. Joseph’s Hospital (SJH), and later with Sydenham District Hospital (SDH) joined to form the CKHA, each retaining its separate legal identity with its own board of directors, according to CKHA board chair Brenda Richardson. The board structure has not changed or evolved since the signing of the Alliance Agreement more than 17 years ago, even though since then, the hospitals’ operations became one entity.

“We need a governance model that will reflect best practice and is nimble and flexible enough to respond to the needs of today’s health-care system,” Richardson said after the annual report to the community. “Today is a significant step in the right direction.”

Chatham Mazda from Chatham Voice on Vimeo.

The process began in 2012, when the Alliance board decided to do something about the disconnect between three boards directing one operation. The governance review concluded in the spring of 2014 that a new plan was needed, and an executive committee was set up to work on revising the board’s role, function, size, committee structure and bylaws.

“I’m proud of where we are in our journey, joining strategic leadership with courage and resolve,” Richardson said. “It is a path that is being created as we walk it.”

“It’s a personal journey for us and has always been about making a difference. In the last 10 years, I couldn’t have imagined the extent of change that has taken place,” she added. “To add value and to be relevant, we must put the patient first; and if not, it’s felt in the boardroom and at the bedside. When we put individual and personal agendas first, we fail patients.”

SJH board chair Gail Rumble stood united with Richardson.

“For over 17 years, I’ve seen this organization mature and become an exceptional community hospital,” Rumble said. “But we are at a critical juncture. We need to become a single organization,” Rumble said.

CKHA CEO and President Colin Patey agreed with the move, and said in today’s health-care system, there is a much greater collaboration between health-care providers and community partners, with the patient at the centre.

“Now is not the time for competition and multiple organizations to turf protect,” Patey said. “We have to co-operate and spend money more wisely.”

When asked about the absence of SDH board from the agreement, Patey said one corporation couldn’t obligate another corporation to join the integration.

“We want everyone to come to the table on their own accord and in their own good time,” Patey said. “The option is still open to the Sydenham board and we would welcome them.”

The next step said Patey is for the CKHA to send a letter to the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) stating that the two boards have voluntarily agreed to become one entity, but ultimately, the Ministry of Health controls the process.

Richardson said for now, the board membership of five PGH and five SJH will continue and work on next steps will continue this summer.

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