Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Vickie Kaminski, president and chief executive officer of Eastern Health, is no stranger to controversy.

When the former  CEO of Sudbury Regional Hospital in Ontario arrived to run this province’s largest (and most troubled) health authority, Health Minister Ross Wiseman said she "brings with her a wealth of knowledge, experience and a commitment to excellence in health care. Her leadership will assist in ensuring high-quality health and community services throughout the Eastern Region."

Her tenure has been a difficult one. For most of the past three years she has been putting out fires, reacting to scandals of some sort and having trouble recruiting professionals to the beleaguered health authority which manages hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and community health programs on the Avalon, Burin and Bonavista Peninsulas, and has about 12,000 employees.

Last week, in the wake of serious privacy breaches at Eastern Health, Liberal Health Critic Jim Bennett said that CEO Vickie Kaminski should quit or be fired.   At first glance, I thought it was a partisan political shot. Surely, Ms. Kaminski should not be held personally accountable for a nosey employee’s behavior. However, when one looks at this incident in the context of the myriad of foul-ups at Eastern Health, Bennett’s call has merit.

It seems to me that  not a lot has changed in running the shop, with unexplainable cost overruns, shortages of health professionals, medical screw-ups, private medical information being discussed in public, medical waste spilling on the streets, more lab test foul-ups and a lot of silly excuses. 

Four years in it seems fair to evaluate and ask the question, has she lived up to former Health Minister Ross Wiseman billing! Are we getting our scarce health care dollars worth. We are paying more and more out to the executive but the performance of the board does not look to be responding.

Has she returned Eastern Health to respectability? Has she rebuild morale among health care workers and trust among Newfoundlanders?

The public should be more concerned, and demand more accountability.

What has she accomplished? Morale is in the basement, no one wants to work there, there are open positions that we can't recruit for....it has been a few years, maybe its someone else's turn?

1 comment:

Cyril Rogers said...

Peter, I am not blaming Ms Kaminski for the privacy leaks but the whole system is getting bureaucratic, in my opinion. That's what happens when organizations grow so large that they lose touch with their people and their constituents. They grow bigger departments in order to become more efficient but the bigger they get....the more likely they are to become inefficient.

I believe a smaller, more geographically-designed model works best in a province with widely-scattered population, despite government's attempts to urbanize everybody. It is all too generic and like using a shotgun to hit the bullseye. All you achieve is to scatter around more crap!

Our local health boards used to do a fairly decent job but we were determined to build bureaucratic empires in the same manner as all other jurisdictions. The result: large numbers of office staff serving the bureaucracy and too few actually serving the primary client base.

My take is that we need to get back to having more local control and allowing regions to develop solid expertise that other regions can tap into. After all, does ALL of the expertise need to be located in St. John's?