One of the best things about being a Dean at Queen’s is the close and special relationship I have with our three academic hospitals in Kingston. I serve as a proud board member of the hospitals and meet on a regular basis with members of the senior executive team. In fact, it’s been my observation that the relationships between the hospitals and the University are closer and more integrated in Kingston than in most academic medical centres across the country.
Since I arrived in Kingston six years ago, I have been a strong advocate of the need for our hospitals to work even more closely than they do now. To be sure, much of the clinical activity was rationalized many years ago, but still, it has always been my opinion that by banding together, our hospitals – especially in the acute sector – would be stronger together. The increased strength comes from added efficiencies to be sure, but more important, for a centre the size of Kingston, going forward with a unified strategy and a single face to government provides enormous advantages.
And to be sure, doing away with a layer of administrative structures has the potential to make care for our patients more seamless, and to facilitate the work of our professional and administrative staff.
So you can imagine how thrilled I was by this week’s announcement that Kingston General Hospital and Hotel Dieu Hospital have decided, voluntarily, to create a new academic health sciences centere that will bring together the operations of the two hospitals. The new organization will operate as one hospital with one budget, on two separate sites, and will be overseen by one board, one chief executive officer and one executive team.
There is still a lot of work to be done and a few hurdles to climb. The hospitals have to negotiate the terms of an operating agreement, the sharing of current assets, and create a new board of directors. There will be a process of stakeholder engagement, and seeking the necessary approvals from the LHIN and the Province.
But despite the work to be done, I must say I am incredibly impressed and proud of all who have taken part in this process to date. Integration of two hospitals is not an easy process, and the challenges are greater when one hospital is a faith-based institution, and one is not. But armed with determination and dedication, the teams of board members and executives alike, have worked flat out to make this arrangement work and to get to the stage of this week’s announcement, which in my view is the most significant this city has seen in decades.
I am also personally thrilled that Dr. David Pichora has been named as the new institution’s first Chief Executive Officer. I have worked very closely with David since my arrival in Kingston, and I am confident that David has the skills, dedication and personal character to lead the new institution in its inaugural years.
I am confident that working together, the teams of staff and professionals will preserve the legacy of two institutions, and that the whole will be greater than the sum of the parts.
Of the many issues I have worked on in the last six years, this initiative, when it proves successful, (and it will prove successful) will have been the issue I have been most proud to have worked on.
Please share your thoughts about our acute care hospitals integrating, by commenting below… or better yet, please drop by the Macklem House, my door is always open.