Saskatoon Health Region has been receiving lots of media attention about several important matters. I would like to share some comments on these issues.

Maura Davies President and CEO Saskatoon Health Region

Maura Davies
President and CEO
Saskatoon Health Region

Infrastructure

Reports on the condition of our facilities have brought much needed attention to the high risk we experience across the Region every day. It comes as no surprise to employees and physicians that many of our buildings are old and in need of major repairs or replacement. Despite the hard work of our maintenance staff, many basic building systems (e. g. electrical, mechanical, ventilation) are worn out and frequently break down, causing very difficult and sometimes unsafe conditions for our patients, clients, residents and care givers. Other building deficiencies include leaky roofs and windows, crumbling exteriors, old boilers and nurse call systems, worn flooring and inadequate bathrooms. Many buildings are not designed to meet modern standards for infection control and patient privacy. The condition of many of our buildings makes them hard to clean, despite the constant efforts of our housekeeping staff. These problems exist in urban and rural facilities, hospitals and long term care homes, and our parkades.

Decades of underfunding have caught up with us, a situation that is shared across the province. We have 70 facilities, covering approximately six million square feet. Since 2007, we have received approximately ten million dollars per year to maintain and repair our buildings. That is less than a fifth of what we need for routine maintenance. Virtually all of the dollars are, of necessity, spent on emergency building failures, with little available for ongoing maintenance and repair.

We appreciate the funding that we have received to build some new facilities (e.g. Humboldt District Health Complex,┬áIrene and Leslie Dube Centre for Mental Health, replacement of Manitou Lodge, expansion of Oliver Lodge, our new RUH pharmacy and SPH Unit 4B). We also appreciate the funding for the new Children’s Hospital of Saskatchewan, which is the first phase of what needs to be a multi-phase renewal of the RUH site. However, given the nearly one billion dollar backlog of building deficiencies in our Region, much more is needed.

We are committed to work with government to develop a multi-year plan to address the current, unacceptable situation. We need to find a way to fund the most urgent critical building deficiencies and move away from a crisis mode of managing flooding, electrical failures, and other building failures. The solution will not be easy, nor will it be cheap. In some cases, the only solution is to replace some of our buildings. Others will require a major infusion of funding to bring them up to standard.

Lean

Another issue that has received a lot of media attention has been government’s decision to shorten the time remaining in the contract with our lean consultants. This decision does not represent abandoning our commitment to improve the quality and safety of our care through lean. Rather, it reflects a desire to accelerate the transition of the capability to do that important work to the people working within our health system.

We have learned a lot over the past two years. In the spirit of continuous improvement, we want to improve our application of lean, including responding to suggestions for how we teach people about lean and do some of our improvement work. Although rapid process improvement workshops (RPIWs) and 3P events will continue to be part of how we make care safer and more efficient, eliminate waste and improve the patient experience, we need to place more emphasis on daily improvement as part of everyone’s work, including more effective use of our team huddles and visibility walls.

Engagement Survey

Finally, I want to assure all employees and physicians that I view the results of our engagement surveys as a confirmation of your commitment to the important work you do, and as a call for action to make your work experience in Saskatoon Health Region much better.

You have told us that we need to ensure you have adequate resources to do your work, do a better job of managing performance, support career development, and help you be safe and healthy at work. Senior leaders need to be more visible, accessible and effective. I commit to work with you in responding to these concerns. We will create many opportunities to continue the conversation, better understand your perspectives and hear your ideas for improving our workplace. In September, we will establish two advisory groups to work with our Senior Leadership Team in developing and implementing an action plan to make our Region a place where people want to work and feel valued.

I am very grateful for the dedication and commitment Saskatoon Health Region employees and physicians demonstrate every day, providing excellent, compassionate care and services to our many patients, clients, residents, families and communities. Thank you. I wish you all a happy, safe summer.

I welcome your feedback and can be contacted directly at maura.davies@saskatoonhealthregion.ca

Maura Davies
President and CEO
Saskatoon Health Region