Monday, December 22, 2014

2014 Year-end Board Chair & CEO Message

Message from Board Chair Joan Wideman and President & CEO Rik Ganderton
December 22, 2014

As we enter the holiday season, I want to thank each of you, on behalf of the Board of Directors, for your ongoing work of delivering outstanding care to our communities. It has been another busy and exciting year for Rouge Valley Health System (RVHS).

Our CEO, Rik Ganderton will end almost eight years of successful leadership on Dec. 31. The Board has again been able to prevail on Rik to not cut the ties completely, and he will continue to provide strategic leadership advice and guidance to the senior team and the board on strategic matters until the new CEO arrives. Michele James has agreed to continue as acting CEO while Rik continues to support RVHS remotely. Michele will continue to have day-to-day operational responsibility. The Board is grateful to Rik for his visionary leadership and the turnaround of RVHS over the last eight years. He is leaving the organization in a much better and stronger state than when he joined in January 2007. It is our intention to celebrate Rik’s leadership and success at RVHS at an event in the spring, and you will see more information on this in the New Year. 

As you are aware, we have been conducting a search for Rik's replacement. We are very pleased with the number and quality of the candidates that have stepped forward. We have held initial screening interviews with 17 candidates and then selected a short list of seven for in-depth interviews with the selection committee (Board Executive Committee, plus Dr. Joanne Ma as President of the Medical Staff Society.) We now have a shortlist of three absolutely outstanding candidates, and we intend to make our final selection quickly. It is our hope that the new CEO will be on the job by the end of March.

While there have been many exciting events in the last year, the potential merger discussions and work with The Scarborough Hospital (TSH) took much time and effort from your Board, physician leadership, senior management team and many others. I want to thank every one of you for your tireless dedication and the countless extra hours of effort. While the merger did not proceed in March, we continue to believe strongly that it is the right thing for our patients and the local health care system. We continue to work with TSH on several integrations at the program level and are hopeful that at some point this opportunity can be brought back to the table for the benefit of our communities.

Perhaps one of the most important roles of the Board of Directors is to set the Mission, Vision, Values and Strategic Direction of the organization. We are now in the process of renewing our current 2011 – 2014 Strategic Plan. To this end, we have created a Board-led Strategic Planning and Branding committee with representation from the Board; physician leaders and front line doctors; union leaders; managers; community advisory group members and front line staff. There is also an Operations committee, which includes an even broader representation. These committees will be very active along with the new CEO as we re-examine our Mission, Vision and Values and renew our strategic direction. A key component of the process is understanding what our existing brand is and what the gap may be to the brand that we want (brand is not about name but about how our patients see us and think of us). We see the strategic plan and the brand as being inextricably linked and that our strategies must drive us towards brand improvement.

Looking into the future, we are sure 2015 will be another exciting year for Rouge Valley. We will have a new CEO to lead us into the future. We will continue to work with our health system partners to integrate our services and break down silos for the benefit of our patients. We continue to look at new opportunities and priority projects to enhance our services to our community. We may again look at organizational changes and opportunities such as mergers, whether these are vertical (up or down stream providers) or horizontal with other hospitals.

What we know for sure is that the health system is continuing to transform and that we want to be and will be a leader in that transformation. We will also continue to focus on our patients by ensuring they are at the centre of all of our decision making.

On behalf of the RVHS Board of Directors, I wish you and your families a joyous Christmas season, and best wishes for a safe, healthy and successful 2015 year!

Joan M. Wideman
Chair, Board of Directors
Rouge Valley Health System

I echo Joan’s thanks to the team. It has been a year of tremendous effort from every one of you, and I thank you all for your energy and commitment to making Rouge “the best at what we do.” As with any look back, there have been a number of highs and lows. It was clearly a low point when the merger did not proceed given the benefits we saw and frankly the effort that the teams from both Rouge and TSH put in to the project. We remain committed to integration and continue to work with TSH to integrate services for our patients. We also continue to work with our other health system partners and continue to further integrate services for the benefit of our communities.

There have also been many successes in 2014 that we should be proud of and celebrate. The most recent is the response to the Fairview Lodge fire. Along with our other health system partners, we were able to react and accommodate some 200 residents across the system — of which Rouge Valley took 27. Our health system partners were also able to find new temporary homes for these residents within two weeks of the fire — a remarkable achievement given the shortage of long-term care capacity.

One of our most exciting initiatives has been the new bed map. This has been a unique and innovative approach to managing the continuum of care for our patients. We have changed from the approach of moving patients to where the care is to moving care to where the patient is — a totally patient-centric philosophy. While this sounds simple, it is one of the most complex and far-reaching change initiatives Rouge has ever undertaken. It has impacted virtually every aspect of our care delivery processes. I am well aware that many of you have put in hundreds of hours of effort to make this change work, and I know that it has been very challenging on occasion. It will continue to be a challenge as we adjust our care processes to the new approach, but rest assured, it is making a positive difference for our patients (and for our staff). For instance, we are now physically moving patients far less often. This is much safer for patients as it reduces the risk of handoff errors. It also reduces the infection risk as we are not regularly changing the environment that a patient experiences. It is also a better patient experience as the care comes to the patient and the patient is not physically moved multiple times during his or her stay. It also reduces workload for staff, such as housekeeping (less cleaning), portering (fewer moves) and nursing (fewer moves and handoffs).

No look back at 2014 can be complete without the response to the Ebola threat, a deadly disease that arose again in West Africa on a huge scale and which for a time threatened to spread globally. Our domestic and local response required herculean efforts, and as with most similar situations, there was a modicum of confusion and wheel spinning before the new processes and procedures kicked in as a routine. The threat now seems to have diminished substantially, but ongoing vigilance is required to ensure there is no re-emergence of this or other similar threats. I wish to thank everyone for their unstinting efforts to ensure the safety of our staff and patients.

On an activity basis, we continue to experience growth in volumes and/or the complexity of the patients we are treating. We continue to see periodic surges in activity throughout the year and are currently experiencing yet another surge. This latest one seems to be driven by the spiking flu season, which is expected to peak over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Its impact is increased because of the reduced long-term care capacity caused by the Fairview fire and now the impact of respiratory and enteric outbreaks in several nursing homes, which means they are closed to admissions. We will as usual weather this ‘storm,’ but it will require your patience and continued dedication to serving our patients in the best way we can.

Rouge continues to develop the scope and volume of services we provide. Our regional cardiovascular rehabilitation program has continued to expand and now covers much of the Central East Local Health Integration Network. It is recognized for its innovation and it is considered as a model for the province. Its efficacy will be subject to a research study lead by Institute for Clinical Evaluative Services (ICES), which is very exciting for the program. Also leading the way in innovation and improving benefits for our patients is our surgical program. Examples here include the introduction of GreenLightTM lasers for prostate surgery, greatly increasing the success of these procedures and greatly reducing patient discomfort and recovery. Our orthopaedic program continues with its innovative ”prehab” approach for major joint replacements and we are starting to work with our primary care colleagues in both hip, knee and shoulders to introduce care pathways that span the typical silos. We continue to recruit new physicians and build our bench strength for service delivery, and we welcome the 15 new doctors who joined us in the last year. There is no doubt that the effective relationships between the Board, management and medical staff is a true differentiator for Rouge.

Last but not least, I must mention the affiliation agreement with the University of Toronto, which was signed in the fall. This agreement will help us to attract new physicians and other clinical staff and offers and exciting partnership with U of T - Scarborough Campus. While definitive mutual directions have not been set, we are exploring opportunities in sports medicine, brain imaging and mental health with our colleagues at the Scarborough campus.

This is also my last annual message as CEO of Rouge. It has been a pleasure to serve as your CEO, and I look back with pride at all of the accomplishments that each of you, and Rouge as an organization, have enjoyed in the last almost eight years. You should have great pride in the organization you work for and the things you do every day to serve our patients and be the best at what we do. I wish you all health, happiness and success in the years to come and I hope that our paths may cross again in the future. Thank you.
Rik Ganderton
President & CEO
Rouge Valley Health System