2021 Blog Post

My first 100 days: We’re moving and shaking! A contribution by Dr. Kathryn Nichol

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By VHA
Dr. Kathryn Nichol, smiling and posing with her dog

100 days!

Yesterday was the 100-day mark since I assumed the role of President and CEO at VHA Home HealthCare. There is so much hype about the 100-day mark! I think for me the most important thing about this milestone is to take the time to personally reflect on how much I have learned in these first months, key accomplishments so far and how excited I am about our future.

Learning

I have talked in other blog posts about learning and how important it is to take the time to listen and learn from those who know better and those who know more… and especially those who provide care and receive care who always know better and know more! Well, it doesn’t stop here at the 100-day mark. Just think about what has happened recently that has led to invaluable learning. This week a horrible act of terrorism took place against a Muslim family in London, Ontario and one of the victims was a physiotherapist and an active member of the community where VHA provides rehab services. This tragic incident just reinforces our need to elevate our anti-racism work and our focus on respecting and celebrating diversity. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family that was targeted. Celebrating diversity through PRIDE this month has new significance as a result and I am proudly displaying our colourful logo in long-standing support of the LGBTQ2S community.

Key Accomplishments

The first 100 days have not been dull!

Starting on Day 1, I have been doing a lot of outreach which has resulted in an array of important conversations with many members of VHA’s team, our clients and families, our external partners and our volunteers. Through town halls, team meetings, leader forums, blog posts, video interviews, one-on-one meetings, social media posts, newsletter articles, email and voice mail messages and updates on our website I have been able to connect with so many people to hear their perspectives and to ensure our partnerships and collaborations continue to thrive and grow. After all that zooming, let me just say that I am SO looking forward to in-person meet-ups in the Fall (fingers crossed).

The first 100 days were also full of challenges which needed immediate attention – isn’t this the case with any front-line health service provider organization? Especially during a global pandemic? Each challenge was different and managing each successfully with support from our strong leadership team was certainly a key accomplishment and of course each provided a learning opportunity.

On May 1st I was able to launch some important changes at VHA including the creation of a dedicated research and innovation portfolio with a new senior research leadership position. Dr. Sandra McKay, who has been leading VHA’s growing research team and vision since 2009, assumed this role on May 1st and has the exciting responsibility to raise the academic profile of VHA, create partnerships with academic institutions and hospitals and position VHA as a leader in setting the home care research agenda in the province. Another important change was bringing VHA’s Client and Family Voice Program, including our Client and Carer Advisory Council, Client Voice Steering Committee and dedicated Client and Family Voice Specialist Stacey Ryan, into our Quality portfolio where we can fully embed our “nothing about me, without me” approach through true co-design into quality improvement projects and initiatives across the organization. These changes will position us well for the future and will help make care and experiences better for our team and our clients.

Exciting Future – We are moving and shaking!

VHA has a powerful and relevant strategic plan that will continue to guide us in the future. It was developed in 2019 with the input of many voices including clients and families, VHA team members, volunteers and external partners. It highlights current health system restructuring and home care modernization as key opportunities for growth.  I am excited to say that we are moving and shaking in this area! VHA is now part of 14 Ontario Health Teams (with a 15th in progress) leading the way to integrate healthcare at the community level. We are providing thought leadership in the areas of governance, privacy, digital connections, quality and clinical hospital-to-home pathways. We are also growing our integrated care partnership with University Health Network and our transitional care program with Michael Garron Hospital. VHA has an exciting new initiative called THRU – Tactical Healthcare Response Unit – which is a team of nurses, pharmacists/pharmacy technicians and non-clinical staff that can quickly respond to partners needing support for COVID vaccination efforts. The exciting part is that the focus of the team can be changed to respond to the need.

Well, it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t make note of the pandemic as it has of course been a top priority during my first 100 days. Thankfully, vaccines are readily available and second doses are rolling out now. Wave 3 is subsiding and the province is beginning to re-open. At VHA we still have our pandemic response team in action managing our response and ensuring our staff and service providers are safe at work and our clients and families are safe at home. It has been scary, exhausting and, in some circumstances, tragic. My hope is that the summer weather, the re-opening of our communities and the availability of vaccines will allow for some well-deserved rest, relaxation and recreation for our team. I am so proud to be part of an organization that can stand up during a crisis like this and never stop providing essential care.

So here’s to celebrating the 100 day mark full of learning, key accomplishments and exciting plans for moving and shaking. Looking forward to writing to you again at the 6 month mark!

Warmly,

Kathryn