Changes at the top announced for Health PEI

·2 min read
Changes at the top announced for Health PEI

Normally, changes in leadership of a government agency might not be of much public interest.

But when that agency is Health PEI and the world is in the midst of a pandemic during which top bureaucrats like Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison and Chief of Nursing Marion Dowling have become household names on Prince Edward Island — that's different.

According to a written release issued by Health PEI Thursday afternoon, the leadership reorganization will "help to streamline decision making, break down barriers between programs, improve overall co-ordination of the health-care system and provide responsive services to the increasing health needs of Islanders."

Dr. Michael Gardam will fill a brand new position, chief operating officer. He'll look after the day-to-day operations of Health PEI and "provide synchronization and strategic oversight across the system," the province said. Mental health will also fall under his purview.

Gardam is an infection control and disease specialist who came from Ontario last fall for a six-month stint as senior medical adviser at Health PEI.

Craig Chivers/CBC
Craig Chivers/CBC

Dr. Katherine McNally has been hired for the new position of chief medical officer, which the province says will consolidate leadership to all physicians, allowing for "more clarity, consistency and standardization of care."

"What we are aiming to achieve is improved integration, improved consistency and improved co-ordination of our health-care system," Health PEI CEO Denise Lewis Fleming told CBC News: Compass host Louise Martin Thursday. The new leadership structure will break down silos and bring together Health PEI's operational team, as well as its medical leadership and administration duties, she noted.

The previous organizational system was created more than four years ago, Fleming said, and the vision for health care has evolved to treat people more holistically.

"It is definitely our aim for Islanders to feel a difference," Fleming said, adding one goal is to make navigating P.E.I.'s health-care system easier for Islanders.

'More nimble'

In the release, Health and Wellness Minister James Aylward said that 10 months into the pandemic, he has learned "we need to remove more red tape, empower health-care providers to make decisions they are qualified to make, become more nimble as an organization."

Randy McAndrew/CBC
Randy McAndrew/CBC

In the coming weeks and months, Aylward promised Islanders will see more time and effort being put into expanding access to health-care services, improved co-ordination among health programs and more consistent physician leadership across P.E.I.

"This shift in direction will also allow our physician leaders to focus on providing care and resources to Islanders, and not get caught up in administration," Aylward said.

New priorities at Health PEI will include strengthening mental health and addictions services, seniors' health, primary care renewal, mobile health, virtual care and health human resources, the release and Fleming said.

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