It’s Our Hospital – column 20

briar boyceUncategorized

It’s Our Hospital
By Fran Donaldson, Vice-Chair of PECM Hospital Foundation
Last week I attended Quinte Health Care’s Strategic Planning retreat. In addition to members of the QHC Board of Directors and staff, there were representatives of the Auxiliaries and Foundations from each of the four member hospitals, so our Executive Director, Penny Rolinski was also there, as well as PECMH Auxiliary President Pat Evans. Donald Wakefield attended in a new role of Patient Advisor. In all, over 60 people participated. Five years after developing the first strategic plan, QHC was reaching out to all of us for input to update the plan.

One of the speakers was CEO, Mary Clare Egberts, who admitted that earlier in her career she hadn’t really appreciated the importance of strategic planning, but has become convinced that having a focused direction is critical to success in any venture. She used the image of a lighthouse which guides a ship though danger and doldrums and turbulence, without which the vessel can get lost.

Participants were assigned places at table of seven or eight, and we each received notes to work with. In our group, we had a (fictitious) patient profile of a new mother from Tyendinaga who was in hospital following a premature delivery and much concerned about being able to respect her cultural traditions. This led to a discussion about communication and training and being sensitive to the needs, beliefs and values of all patients, from whatever background. The staff profile – also fictitious – was about someone moving here from a big city, with a wife and children, all concerned with re-settling here, in school, careers, etc. We soon found ourselves discussing the problems of recruitment, succession planning and the services that the human resources department could provide.

When the groups reported, the results were very different, each group having worked with a different scenario, but still very compatible overall. Nobody reported anything that anyone else could object to and everyone could see the value of all recommendations – although some groups mentioned that discussions at their tables had been difficult.

We’d had quite a lot of reading to do in preparation for the event – background material in the form of news clippings and articles which provided a “situational analysis” of things that impact QHC and/or can be expected to do so in the future, ranging from census data and changes in the health funding systems to next year’s provincial election and information about QHC’s patients.

One area of concern stood out for me – the overall effect of the aging population (a sensitive subject for me and most of my friends, anyway). More elderly people will be making more and more demands on the health care system. But there’s another aspect for QHC: 34% of staff and 50% of management will be eligible to retire in the next five years. That will mean a huge challenge for human resources to recruit replacements. And while recruitment of physicians has been fairly successful, the region is also short of family physicians, with more retirements expected in the near future. The County, with its high proportion of retirees, is especially vulnerable.

Next week, our Foundation will hold a strategic planning session. Of course, the scope of the exercise will be very different, as we are primarily responsible for fund-raising, not hospital administration, but many of the same factors will need to be considered.

For more information about the Foundation and upcoming events, or to learn how you can help, please contact Penny or Briar in the Foundation Office at (613) 476-1008 ext. 4503 or 4425 or visit