Wanted: 12 hospital board members

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Rob Devitt, the provincially appointed supervisor for the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, said anyone interested in being one of the 12 voting members of the new hospital board had better know how to leap.

He said the bar would be set high on the skills-based requirements to be a director.

Devitt announced Nov. 16 the CKHA would be a two-site institution, with one governing body.

He hopes half the board will be comprised of one member from each of the municipal wards in Chatham-Kent. Another director will come from one of the two neighbouring First Nations communities, while the five other positions will be occupied by citizens at large.

And they might not all come from within Chatham-Kent.

“It could be that a board member is from a little farther away but they’ll bring a specific competency,” Devitt said. “These hospitals are for everyone. People who use these campuses are not from one place.”

Devitt said being on a hospital board is a very challenging endeavour. Volunteers face more than 200 statutes in Ontario placing accountability on the shoulders of hospital directors.

“I hope people view this with excitement and see this as an opportunity,” he said of becoming a director. “That said, this is a very onerous responsibility. If there’s a mistake made at the boardroom level, it shows up at the bedside.”

Devitt said the selection process will not be easy, as it will be as thorough as the process used to hire an executive member of administration.

While hospital board members typically serve three-year terms, he said he’ll stagger the lengths of the initial terms of those selected to naturalize the replacement process in the future.

“I will appoint the directors for various terms – one year, two years, three years – so there’s a natural turnover,” he said.

As well, Devitt said he will encourage the province to put in place a “coach” for the CKHA to help ensure the board members and the alliance continue on the present course after Devitt is gone next year, and that the person be in place for one or two years. In his eyes, this wouldn’t be a person constantly looking over the board’s shoulder, but would instead review the situation periodically.

“They’d check in on how things are going and to make sure the old culture isn’t creeping back in,” he said.

Devitt stressed it should be a fresh set of eyes.

“It shouldn’t be me. I’ve recruited the CEO, the chief of staff and will recruit the board. It’s better for dynamics that it not be me.”

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