Forgive us if we still pinch ourselves when dealing with the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance.
When the province appointed a supervisor for the CHKA several years ago, Rob Devitt, he wanted to meet with the media to be open an honest on developments at the alliance.
After years of seeing the alliance – and other hospitals for that matter – refuse to share information and squirrel away information, ostensibly for privacy reasons, but instead just because they weren’t compelled to tell the public, the concept of such openness was so foreign that the local media attended these CKHA press conferences expecting more smoke and mirrors.
There has been little smoke. If anything, Devitt, and now CKHA CEO and president Lori Marshall and board chair Greg Aarssens have used a magnifying glass instead.
Good or bad, they’ll discuss matters.
After having a health alliance that forever seemed unable to run a balanced budget, and had staff that hated working there, it is heartening to see the board and administration operate in a more fiscally responsible manner rather than expecting the province to bail them out of the red, or resorting to borrowing money. Further, it puts patient care and safety at the forefront, and seeks to raise staff satisfaction and trust levels.
The starting point was pretty low, but the improvements are tangible.
The fiscal situation has improved greatly, to the point the alliance has posted three straight balanced-or-better fiscal years. It is able to reinvest money into important areas of need as a result.
That doesn’t mean everything is coming up roses at the alliance. There are still areas for improvement. For example, there was a decline in performance of the reconciliation of patient medications before they are discharged. It dropped midway through last year. Administration said it’s due to the heavy manual review effort needed and is looking at ways to improve the process.
The new regime is not perfect. But it does tend to report its imperfections, as well as its successes.
It has made improvements in many areas and it is hoped reduced wait times for hip and knee replacements will soon follow. We have some of the best orthopedic surgeons in the province. If we can get patients to see them in a timelier manner, that’s another huge win for the alliance.