SUDBURY, ON –  Health Sciences North (HSN) seized the opportunity of its Annual General Meeting to update the community on its 2019-2024 strategic planning process. Maureen McLelland, Special Advisor to the CEO for Strategic Planning, was the guest speaker. The theme of this year’s AGM was “Your Voice. Your Vision.” 

“We heard from more than 3,000 people across Northeastern Ontario since March. We spoke with patients and families, employees, medical staff, volunteers, donors, members of the general public, health care providers, learners, community and academic partners, indigenous communities, other northern hospitals, elected officials and national thought leaders on a variety of topics. We also engaged with groups representing at risk populations including seniors, mental health patients, and members of the LGBTQ/transgender community”, said McLelland. She explained that the 32-member Steering Committee leading the process has gathered rich feedback around what we do well and what we could improve on, in health care services and research. Emerging themes will guide HSN and the Health Sciences North Research Institute (HSNRI) in creating a plan for the next five years. 

With consultations now completed, the steering committee will prepare a draft strategic plan to be validated in the fall. The Strategic Plan will be used as a framework for guiding performance goal-setting and budget decisions by the Boards of Directors of HSN and HSNRI from 2019-2024. It will feature no more than five key goals or aspirations, and no more than 25 outcomes to be achieved by 2024.

Mary Jane Scott, HSN’s Patient and Family Advisory Council Co-Chair, reported that the number of Patient Advisors has tripled over the last five years at HSN. Nearly 40 advisors now serve on various HSN committees and provide advice and guidance to staff, with a goal to continuously improve the patient experience. She added, “patient advisors look forward to working with HSN Staff and Senior Leadership on its Strategic Planning journey, to ensure that the patient lens is further integrated in our approach to care delivery in the years to come.”

Board Chair Nicole Everest reported that construction began for the Learners’ Centre and the PET Scanner suite, and that HSN is updating its capital master plan by May 2019 to enable HSN’s expansion to meet future needs including for NEO Kids. “Thanks to a close relationship with the North East Local Health Integration Network, there was progress made on reducing the average number of Alternative Level of Care patients during the last five months of the fiscal year to 72, down from 101 for the same period the year before”, added Everest.

President and CEO Dominic Giroux marked his first AGM since joining the organization in October. He highlighted the many achievements of HSN staff and physicians in 2017-18, confirming that he has seen significant pride in quality care since day one. “In the last year, HSN ranked in the top 10% of 680 North American hospitals on the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program administered by the American College of Surgeons. For a fourth consecutive year, HSN was ranked among Canada’s top 40 research hospitals”, explained Giroux. The CEO reviewed the goals that the HSN Board has set for 2018-2019. 

Dominic Giroux also acknowledged the compassionate leadership of a respected member of the HSN Leadership team who will retire after a 35-year healthcare career.  Joe Pilon, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, will be retiring on August 31st.  Joe has been an integral part of HSN’s growth and evolution and we all wish him well in a well-deserved retirement. 

Dr. John Fenton, Chief of Staff, delivered a first report to the community, highlighting a number of innovative surgical and cardiac procedures that were now available to Northeastern patients.  He noted that 19 physicians were recruited to start practices in the city. That number includes six family doctors, 11 specialists, and two Emergency Medicine physicians.

An operating deficit of $11.1 million dollars was reported for 2017-18.  Ten of Northeastern Ontario’s 25 hospitals reported a deficit at the third quarter of the 2017-2018 fiscal year. Seven Northeastern Ontario hospitals reported deficits greater than HSN’s as a proportion of their revenue. 

Board Chair Nicole Everest confirmed that the approved 2018-2019 budget will return HSN to a balanced position as early as 2019-2020. “Our approved budget is currently being validated by a third party review team appointed by the NE LHIN. HSN Board members and senior leaders have actively participated in this validation exercise over the last several weeks, and we look forward to the outcome at the end of the month”, concluded Everest. 

The HSN Board is composed of 14 voting Directors and five ex-officio non-voting Directors. Roger Gauthier and Floyd Laughren were re-elected as Directors until June 2021. The Board welcomes Josée Forest-Niesing who was elected for an initial one-year term as Director until the June 2019. Nicole Everest, Floyd Laughren and Vasu Balakrishnan were elected as Chair, Vice Chair and Treasurer respectively for the coming year.