We are often reminded that change is constant. We experience this at Saskatoon Health Region, where every day we seize the opportunity to improve care and services for patients, clients, residents, families and communities. We do this as part of our commitment to continuous improvement and our core value of excellence. We also undertake change because our customers, those whom we serve, often tell us we need to improve.

Maura Davies, President and CEO, Saskatoon Health Region

Maura Davies
President and CEO
Saskatoon Health Region

When I first joined Saskatoon Health Region almost nine years ago, rarely a day passed when I did not receive a call, letter or e-mail from people frustrated by how long they or their loved one had to wait for surgery. I rarely get these complaints now. Although we have not yet achieved the three month target (21 days for invasive cancer surgery), we have dramatically improved access to surgery and have made our care safer and smarter, using evidence-based practices to eliminate surgical infections and other harm to patients.

While maintaining our efforts on surgery, we are now turning our attention to other services. There has been a lot of focus lately on care for seniors and the quality of care in our special care homes. Although some of our care homes have adopted patient-centred care, including the Eden model at Sherbrooke, in all too many instances the care we provide falls far below what we would want for our own loved ones. Despite the efforts and dedication of staff, many residents do not receive the care they deserve and expect, often because staffing levels are inadequate to meet resident needs. In some cases the culture in our care homes has become too provider-focused, with resident care scheduled more for the convenience of care givers than resident needs. In many instances the design of our older care homes compromises the way care is delivered.

We are not alone. Many care homes throughout the province face similar challenges. The Minister of Health has committed to improving care for seniors, and as a starting point has established a $10 million Urgent Issues Action Fund, a portion of which will be allocated to Saskatoon Health Region to begin to address resident concerns. A set of provincial quality indicators related to long term care will be established (Saskatoon Health Region care homes have been monitoring quality indicators for several years). A provincial visioning session will be held in early December to set the stage for a province-wide approach to improving seniors’ care, including long term care.

Another source of patient and public complaints relates to cleanliness of our facilities, especially Royal University Hospital and St. Paul’s Hospital. These are legitimate concerns. We know that the cleanliness of our facilities is a significant factor in infection control. Our Housekeeping teams work hard but they recognize that we are not achieving the level of cleanliness that should be present in a health-care facility. There are many contributing factors. We have many large, old buildings with high traffic volumes. We have opportunities to improve staff training, establish and monitor higher standards. Staffing levels may not be adequate, often compounded by high rates of staff absenteeism. We can do better.

Several initiatives are underway to improve Housekeeping services. We are establishing new standards and enhancing staff training. Starting in December, we are introducing a rigorous auditing process which will include visual inspection and other quality monitoring methods in targeted areas.

We can all contribute to improving the cleanliness of our buildings wherever we work. It only takes a minute to wipe bathroom counters after we have washed our hands. We do not have to wait for Housekeeping to pick up a piece of paper on a floor or to report unclean conditions that need attention. We can support our Housekeeping colleagues, including understanding that priority will be placed on patient care areas and public spaces.

Other changes often involve members of our team. This month we said farewell to Bonnie Blakley, who has left her position as VP People and Partnerships to join the senior team at 3SHealth. We thank Bonnie for her enormous contribution to the Region and wish her well in her new role. Mike Northcott is acting VP People and Partnerships pending other changes in the senior leadership team, including recruitment of a VP Integrated Health Services, a position which has been vacant since the departure of Dr. Alan Casson. Further information on management changes will be announced in the near future.

As always, I welcome your comments and questions about these and other matters. You can reach me directly at maura.davies@saskatoonhealthregion.ca.

Maura Davies
President and CEO
Saskatoon Health Region
306-655-7720
Maura.Davies@saskatoonhealthregion.ca