Central Health CEO still on the job 2 years after resignation

·3 min read
Central Health CEO Andrée Robichaud announced two years ago she was leaving her position for personal reasons and to be closer to family. (Katie Breen/CBC - image credit)
Central Health CEO Andrée Robichaud announced two years ago she was leaving her position for personal reasons and to be closer to family. (Katie Breen/CBC - image credit)
Katie Breen/CBC
Katie Breen/CBC

The chief executive officer of Newfoundland and Labrador's second-largest health authority is still on the job two years after tendering her resignation and moving permanently to New Brunswick.

On June 24, 2020, Andrée Robichaud announced she was leaving the top job at Central Health for personal reasons and to be closer to family.

At the time, Central Health said Robichaud would continue working as CEO, by distance, "until the position is filled."

But that recruitment campaign has since been abandoned, according to the chair of the regional health authority's board of directors.

In a written statement, Don Sturge said that "considering the recommendations from Health Accord N.L., the movement towards one provincial health authority and the presence of a CEO to lead that transition, we do not feel that this is the right time to recruit a new CEO for Central Health."

Carolyn Stokes/CBC
Carolyn Stokes/CBC

"Since Ms. Robichaud returned to New Brunswick, the Board of Trustees has seen no difference in her performance or engagement. She continues to provide strong leadership during these challenging times," Sturge added.

Robichaud, who received a $218,000 salary in 2020, and Sturge were both unavailable for interviews, according to a Central Health spokesperson.

Timeline for amalgamation unclear

Progressive Conservative health critic Paul Dinn said not recruiting a new CEO makes sense only if the provincial government moves quickly to combine the province's four regional health authorities into one, as promised in the last budget and recommended in the final report of the Health Accord N.L. panel.

"There are timelines set out, suggested timelines set out in the Health Accord, but whether they [the provincial government] stick to those is yet to be determined," said Dinn.

"When you're dealing with the issues we're dealing with here in health care and the particular geography of Central Health, you know, where you have communities like Harbour Breton, Fogo, Bishop's Falls, that are experiencing issues with their health care, I think it's extremely valuable to have a person on the ground who sees it firsthand, who is able to go and speak to staff firsthand and experience what's really happening here,"  he added.

The timelines recommended by Health Accord N.L. specify that in the coming year, the governing Liberals should appoint a transitional CEO and board for the new province-wide health authority.

Former Eastern Health head David Diamond was named as CEO of the new provincial health authority on April 25.

According to the Health Accord N.L. timeline, a permanent provincial health authority should be appointed within two to three years.

The provincial government has not committed to that timeline and a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Community Services would not say when it hopes to amalgamate the four regional health authorities.

A spokesperson for Health Minister John Haggie redirected questions to Central Health.

The Health Accord N.L. final report notes that amalgamating the health authorities will require numerous legislative changes.

The House of Assembly does not return until October.

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