Insights April 2014

Annual Performance Report - Eastern Health, NL

Michael O’Keefe

I would like to begin by saying that providing Eastern Health’s annual performance report is something my colleagues and I take very seriously. This report marks my fourth as Chair of the Board of Trustees, and I view it not just as a responsibility, but also a privilege to be publicly accountable to those we serve - our patients, clients and residents, the Provincial Government and the general public.

As Trustees, we oversee the delivery and administration of health and community services not only within the catchment area of Eastern Health, which serves a population of more than 300,000 people – but also for many specialized and tertiary level programs which serve the whole province.

Eastern Health is the largest health authority in the province, and one of the largest in Canada. It also provides the full continuum of care which includes hospital care, long-term care, community services and public health.

Geographically, we’re spread out over 21,000 square kilometres in 100 facilities; and we offer hundreds of programs and services.

We continue to see more people cross our doorsteps each year. In the past fiscal year, the number of ambulatory encounters in acute care alone reached 1,654,885 people. That number does not include actual admissions to hospital - a number which reached 34,875.

Ours is a very large, complex and challenging responsibility – a challenge and a responsibility that we cannot meet alone.

I would like to recognize the provincial Department of Health and Community Services for its ongoing investment in health and community services and shared commitment with Eastern Health to high quality healthcare in this province.

We also partner with the other regional health authorities, community agencies, professional associations, and healthcare advocates. Of particular note are Memorial University of Newfoundland and the College of the North Atlantic, who we partner with to educate the next generation of health professionals, to conduct research, advance knowledge – with the shared goal of improving patient, client and resident care. 

And to the six foundations, who tirelessly volunteer their time to raise funds that are used to provide the necessary equipment to make programs and services work, again this year we offer our deep gratitude.

But today, our goal is to let you know how we at Eastern Health continue to meet our responsibilities in the provision of accessible, high quality care. A little later, our president and CEO will share in detail what we have accomplished in the past fiscal year, but I would like to take a few moments to highlight some accomplishments as they relate to the priorities we have set for ourselves.

The past fiscal year represents the second year of Together We Can - our Strategic Plan spanning the years from 2011 to 2014.

In that plan, we identified four strategic priorities for Eastern Health. They are Quality and Safety for those we serve and for our staff, improved Access to our services, Sustainability as a health authority and promoting and monitoring Population Health.

We’ve set key performance indicators and targets and developed detailed work plans in each priority areas, which are being monitored closely by the Board of Trustees and Senior Management.

I’m happy to report we continue to make progress in each of these priorities.

Quality and Safety

The backbone of any organization is a commitment to quality and safety. This is particularly true in healthcare. Each quarter, the Board of Trustees receives a scorecard, which allows us to identify areas of concern and note where progress has been made.

We are continuing to strengthen a safety culture at Eastern Health – for our patients, clients and residents and for our employees – as the two go hand-in-hand.

The results of Eastern Health’s first Experience of Care Survey shows some very positive feedback from those we serve, particularly when it comes to the care provided by our healthcare professionals, in acute care, long-term care and emergency care.

But challenges remain. The overall result of the 2012 hand hygiene audit caused concern – and has been identified as a high priority for action within Eastern Health’s Integrated Safety Plan.


Access to our programs and services has been identified as significant issue by those we serve – and by those who provide the services.

With that in mind, my colleagues and I on the Board of Trustees met with community partners to discuss how we can improve navigation through our health and community services. We listened as they told us how important it is to make access to healthcare as timely and seamless as possible. And we are committed to making improvements.

In our last annual performance report, we established a number of baseline wait times, and we continue to implement strategies to meet those benchmarks, reducing wait times in the areas of diagnostic services, radiation therapy, dialysis serves and community-based mental health and addictions services.


Ensuring a sustainable healthcare service is vital to ensuring the future delivery of services – and providing good stewardship around our financial and human resources is a priority for Eastern Health. This is an all-encompassing process, including program standards, research, performance measurement and clinical and administrative guidelines, just to name a few.

We continue to implement our operational improvement initiatives announced last May – and during 2012-13, have realized nearly $20 million in savings and 180.1 full-time equivalencies, through attrition.

We remain committed to improving efficiency, within a balanced budget – and without compromising care.

Population Health

In the priority area of population health, which refers to the health of groups or whole populations as opposed to that of an individual, we’ve made a number of strides forward. We completed a Regional Health Status Report, released a community health needs assessment report of the Trinity-Conception area, and, along with the Provincial Government and Western Health, launched the Newfoundland and Labrador Colon Cancer Screening Program, which targets the populations of men and women between 50 and 74 who are at average risk for colon cancer.

In conclusion, I offer sincere thanks to my fellow trustees for their outstanding contribution; as volunteers, they freely give their time, knowledge and experience to ensure the provision of quality healthcare to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

To our CEO Vickie Kaminski and her executive team: congratulations on a job well done. Strong leadership through both progress and challenge is the key to making Eastern Health an effective, efficient and accountable health authority. I believe the impressive efforts of our executive team, under Vickie’s guidance, continue to advance our healthcare system and instill confidence in those we serve.

I would ask the members of the executive here today to stand.

To the physicians, staff and the thousands of volunteers who make it all work, day after day, year after year, as always, we commend and thank you.

And thank you for your time today. 

About the Author(s)

Michael O’Keefe is Chair of the Board of Trustees, Eastern Health, NL


Speaking Notes from Michael O’Keefe, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Eastern Health, on the Annual Performance Report from Eastern Health at the Eastern Health Annual General Meeting - 11 a.m., October 16, 2013, Dr. G. B. Cross Hospital, Clarenville, NL


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