‘Our people are our greatest resource and our product is caring’ – Karen Davies


city_scope_logo-cmykAfter an extensive national search, St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital had to look no further than its administrative offices to appoint a new president and CEO.
The current vice-president of integrated care, Karen Davies, will take over the helm Aug. 7 from retiring president Robert Biron.
We spoke with Davies on Tuesday (June 22) and she considers it a privilege the hospital board of directors has given her a vote of confidence.
“It’s not about you,” suggested Davies, “it’s about the patients and all of the amazing people who work here, all of the staff and all of the physicians and the community we serve.
“So, it really is a great privilege. And no, I didn’t anticipate to be in the middle of a pandemic but I’ve come to see, though, it is also such a good time of opportunity.”
Credit is due to the team at STEGH, added Davies, for the manner in which they have been able to navigate the hospital through the COVID-19 pandemic.
And continue to do so.

“COVID has tested Ontario hospitals like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. And, I would say, it was brilliant to see every hospital rise to the occasion and work in such a collaborative way.
Karen Davies STEGH CEO“And yet we had many patients from the GTA, we had patients from Manitoba and from our London partners as well and the level of teamwork and cooperation has been exceptional.”
Davies acknowledged the efforts of former CEO and president Paul Collins who implemented the Lean Management System at the hospital. A system that takes a long-term approach to continuous improvements to enhance, in this case, the patient experience at STEGH.
“I had the privilege of coming here in the early days of Lean being implemented as an operating system.
“And, Paul had the vision and understanding of Lean in a very strong way. I do credit him and his leadership for getting this hospital on that path.

“We’re still looking forward. As you know, most of this building is an old building. Most of our patient care still takes place in a building that needs to be modernized.”

“And then I had the privilege to work with Robert Biron for the last three years and he’s an exceptional leader and he did a lot of incredible work in the short time that he was here.
“Especially considering COVID played a big part in18 months of his three years here. But, he’s put in place a very solid new mission vision and values.
“New strategic pillars and he has left this organization in a very strong state and so it’s a privilege to follow him in this position.”
Davies played a critical role in the $100 million Great Expansion at the hospital and the move into the new north tower in 2017.
She stressed moving forward, a priority is the age and condition of the main building that dates back to 1954.
“We’re still looking forward. As you know, most of this building is an old building. Most of our patient care still takes place in a building that needs to be modernized.

“Right now, I would say we are in a stabilizing period. Touch wood, currently we don’t have any COVID in the hospital. We’re all seeing it decrease across the province but at the same time, we’re watching what’s going on in countries that are having a fourth wave.”

“And so we continue to work not just on this facility every single day, but we look to the future. What does that next new building look like?”
As for the staff at STEGH, Davies advised everyone has been in a “sustained emergency state” throughout the pandemic.
“Despite the pandemic, we’ve been able to still push forward a lot of great work and what we’ve been working on with our Elgin partners on the Ontario Health Team has been a good example of that.
“And so, while the pandemic has slowed us down for sure and shifted our focus, as we come out we still accomplished a lot over the time of the pandemic.
“And, as we come out of the pandemic, we’ll start to turn our attention back to the strategy, the people and the Elgin Ontario Health Team.

“So, my priorities will be caring for the people. Getting the strategy, mission, vision and values back up. Maintaining and rebuilding, strengthening our Lean culture here and working with our community partners to get the Elgin Ontario Health Team up and going.”

“Right now, I would say we are in a stabilizing period. Touch wood, currently we don’t have any COVID in the hospital. We’re all seeing it decrease across the province but at the same time, we’re watching what’s going on in countries that are having a fourth wave.
“And, what might that look like. The Delta variant is in our province, and so it’s a concern.
“We’re in a moment right now where we’re trying to re-group. Let people have some downtime. It has been a sustained emergency state here for well over 17 months now and that takes a large toll on our staff.                         “Our people are our greatest resource and our product is caring and so we need people to be at their best when they’re working here.”

“I’m not sure we won’t see a fourth wave. So, how do we make sure we’re ready for that while, at the same time, transforming the system.”

From now until August, Davies will work with Biron during the “stabilizing period” at the hospital.
“I’m looking forward to transitioning with Robert to make sure that it’s seamless, not just for the community, but for everyone working within the building.
“But, certainly for me, the focus going forward will be to continue to stabilize right now. Making sure we’re taking care of our people as we’re coming out of a significant emergency that is still going on.
“I’m not sure we won’t see a fourth wave. So, how do we make sure we’re ready for that while, at the same time, transforming the system.
“So, my priorities will be caring for the people. Getting the strategy, mission, vision and values back up. Maintaining and rebuilding, strengthening our Lean culture here and working with our community partners to get the Elgin Ontario Health Team up and going.”
The establishment of Ontario Health Teams is how the province will now organize and deliver care to patients in their local communities.
Under Ontario Health Teams, health care providers (including hospitals, doctors and home and community care providers) work as one coordinated team – no matter where they provide care.
Securing an MRI remains a top priority for the hospital, assured Davies.
“It is an older facility and so getting that MRI in place is Priority 1. We do have some other programs that need to move into some newer space.
“For example, our lab is currently working in the oldest section of the building and we have a good, strong plan in place for that. We’re just working with the ministry to move that forward.
“And then our pharmacy, which is also in one of the oldest sections of the building and you can imagine there is a tremendous amount of new requirements and legislation around where the pharmacy operates and what that building looks like.
“And so we’re advocating very strongly for new pharmacy space.”
Davies holds an Adjunct Clinical appointment at the Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing at Western University. Something Davies calls a unique opportunity where she can talk with and teach nursing students.
Making sure they understand “what it really looks like to work in healthcare.”
Board chairman Peter van der Westen noted Davies has the right leadership qualities, experience and values to move the hospital forward in this “challenging time.”

NO REAL PENALTY FOR MIS-BEHAVING COUNCILLORS

Last month we wrote about the province asking municipalities in southwestern Ontario to select a council representative to sit in on a town hall meeting to gather feedback on how best to hold council members accountable for municipal code of conduct violations and how to effectively enforce these codes.
This is all part of an effort to “ensure that councillors and heads of council maintain a safe and respectful workplace and carry out their duties as elected officials ethically and responsibly.”
The town hall forum, undertaken via phone, was held on June 8 and Coun. Steve Wookey updated council this past Monday on what transpired that day.
He explained, “the province wants to strengthen the code of conduct for councillors.”

“They are interested in giving investigators the power to levy penalties.”

In other words, what happens when a councillor behaves inappropriately. Not necessarily a criminal code violation or it possibly could cross into that jurisdiction.
Right now, advised Wookey, “every municipality creates its own code of conduct. Every municipality appoints its own closed session investigator.
“And those codes of conduct could be very different across different municipalities in the province.”
According to Wookey, a lot of the municipalities are seeking a standardized code of conduct across the province and mandatory training every term for councillors.
“They are interested in giving investigators the power to levy penalties,” said Wookey.
As it sits now, investigators will recommend a penalty and then a municipal council will decide how to discipline its members.
For example, exactly two years ago the city’s integrity commissioner Mark McDonald dealt with a harassment allegation from a female city hall staffer against a member of this council.
He advised council to adopt a finding that an article of the Code of Conduct was contravened and all members of council – not just the respondent – undertake sensitivity training.
No indication as to whether that has taken place.
This corner opined the penalty was a slap on the wrist based on the allegations and the fact there were legal ramifications dealt with in closed session.

“In some cases, there is no real penalty for behaving badly. And how are we going to deter that?”

Council had the option of going beyond McDonald’s recommendations and could have – under its Code of Conduct – suspended the councillor or withheld salary. It chose to do neither.
Wookey said some municipalities are interested in having “a public record of offences such that closed session investigators across the province could use other decisions as precedence for future decisions.”
City Scope has challenged the fact the offending member of council was never identified and, at the time, we put this to McDonald for an explanation.
He noted, “In the particular circumstances of this case, and the way I handled it, it wasn’t in the public interest to identify the individuals.” Certainly not the victim, that is understandable. But should the offender have been named?
Wookey hit on a critical takeaway from the town hall session.
“In some cases, there is no real penalty for behaving badly. And how are we going to deter that?”

“I would like to know who the offenders are. If these are mostly first-term offenders then maybe we offer some more education. If they are third-term members then obviously they should know better.”

The incident at city hall two years ago is living proof of that concern.
“One thing that was suggested,” continued Wookey, “is to increase the amount of dollar fines that are levied against councillors.
“The issue of suspension was a very interesting one. The point was brought up some people are looking to be suspended to create noise because noise creates support.
“Removal from office is a whole different deal. Some councillors saw that as being fundamentally undemocratic. That it is the voters who decide who should be booted out of office in the next election.
“There could be bans from city hall and some people brought up the repeat offender issue.”
On a personal note, Wookey said “I would like to know who the offenders are. If these are mostly first-term offenders then maybe we offer some more education.
“If they are third-term members then obviously they should know better.”
An excellent summary from Coun. Wookey and until July 15, members of council and city hall staff can provide input through an online survey at https://www.ontario.ca/page/consultation-strengthening-accountability-municipal-council-members.

Related posts:

Oh bridge, wherefore art thou?

Is sensitivity training sufficient deterrent to deal with workplace harassment at city hall?

ANOTHER COUNCIL APPOINTMENT IN THE OFFING

At Monday’s meeting, council unanimously voted to declare Mark Tinlin’s seat officially vacant following his death two weeks ago at the age of 79.

The vacant seat will be filled in the coming weeks by appointment. In March of 2019, council was faced with the death of second-term councillor Linda Stevenson. Members appointed former councillor Wookey to fill the vacant seat.

Related post:

Mark Tinlin, “a great role model” – St. Thomas Mayor Joe Preston

STRIVE TO BE THE BEST

Still with Mark Tinlin, Coun. Lori Baldwin-Sands notified council the Catfish Creek Conservation Authority will honour him – for his service on the CCCA board for nearly six years – by planting a tree in his memory.
In a release from the authority, board chairman Rick Cerna observed, “Mark was very dedicated, very passionate about the environment and Catfish Creek. Mark wanted to make sure that even though we [CCCA] are a small conservation authority, we should strive to be the best in Ontario. His insight was so broad and he was an absolute benefit to the CCCA board.”

A SIGN OF THE TIMES

teddy-soda st. thomas sign companyOn June 19, Miller & Miller Auctions of New Hamburg, Ontario held an online-only Advertising & Breweriana sale.
One of the items up for bids was a Teddy Chocolate Soda single-sided lithographed tin sign from the 1930s.
It promoted a product of the Renfrew Bottling Works and is 13.5 inches by 20 inches and marked along the bottom centre, “St. Thomas Metal Signs Ltd., St. Thomas, Ont.”
The winning bid was $4,130.
Does anyone know the backstory to this sign?
Perhaps a challenge for our resident historian, Steve Peters?

Questions and comments may be emailed to City Scope

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And a reminder, I can be heard weekday afternoons as news anchor and reporter on 94.1 myFM in St. Thomas. As always, your comments and input are appreciated.

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