Consultants hired to assess workplace culture at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital has shared its findings. FILE PHOTO

Report says Nanaimo hospital ‘failing significantly’ in managing people

Island Health official calls report very damaging and damning

A “damaging and damning” report on workplace culture at Nanaimo’s hospital says the situation isn’t sustainable and will lead to self destruction – but it can be fixed.

Results of a workplace culture assessment by Vector Group, hired by Island Health, was shared with hospital leaders, doctors, clinical and support staff on Wednesday.

Of the hospital’s more than 2,200 employees, 473 took part in the assessment, which says from all indications the hospital is “failing significantly” in managing people. The majority of participants perceive, for example, that decisions are based solely on budget with little to no regard for employees’ well-being or quality patient care, accountability for abusive behavior is non-existent and the hospital has maintained an atmosphere of fear, bullying, intimidation, retaliation and censure that prevents people from raising questions, issues or concerns.

Vector Group said the organizational culture is past the tipping point and the simple act of continuing daily operations at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital exacerbates the toxic culture. But it also said it’s very fixable in relatively short time frames with “sustained and focused effort.”

Damian Lange, director of clinical operations at NRGH, calls the report frank and very damaging and damning. Some of the results had been heard over the last number of years but to have it as frank as it was and sent to all staff in its unedited form was difficult for some leaders locally to take, he said.

“At the same time we had made the local decision that we need to stare this head on and we need to share this in its exact form with the staff who contributed and start the process of acknowledging what truly is and how we can move forward together,” he said.

Island Health will work with the consultants for the next year and a half. A press release says leadership and a workplace culture committee and steering committee will put a strategy together in the coming weeks for moving foward.

“Now that we’ve disseminated this report to all staff and physicians and it’s been sent across the organization and beyond we absolutely have to be timely,” said Lange, who believes there has to be forgiveness and a focus on re-establishing fundamental relationships because the way forward is together.

“We need to start fresh and have the culture work as our No. 1 priority, be out there with our teams and all clinical staff to really understand what’s in their way of providing quality care, what’s in their way of feeling comfortable and proud of their workplace” said Lange, who told the News Bulletin conversations are already starting around forums and how to hold each other accountable to constructive, respectful conversations.

Christine Sorensen, acting BCNU president, said the report outlines a concerning picture but it comes as no surprise to BCNU, whose members have been demanding change, and it’s reassured to see the issues highlighted in the report and that the problems are considered fixable.

“There will be a long process of healing and recovery that will be needed but certainly we congratulate Island Health for being willing to look at the situation, for doing the review and for being so open to put out all of the complexities and problems and we hope they are just as willing to work with all the parties involved to make this a better workplace,” she said.

Dr. Dave Coupland, vice-president of the Nanaimo Medical Staff Association, called it somewhat disheartening and discouraging to see the hospital in this light but he also said it’s in times of crisis that change can be made and there’s a real opportunity to turn the hospital around.

“[The report] shows the concerns and issues that were raised by the front line staff … were real and valid and it legitimized them,” he said.“I look at it as an opportunity that we can build from here.”

As for how the culture came to be, Coupland said it was insidious and has been growing for a long time, but he sees IHealth as being the straw that broke the camel’s back, taking it from a difficult environment to a toxic one in crisis.

Fundamental change to the approach to leadership is needed and it’s got to start at the top, he said, pointing out that Island will have a new board and will have a new chief executive officer, which in an opportunity for that change. He too believes in the need for a new relationship that values health care workers and their opinions, allowing them to participate in an advisory role in management, not just in patient care, and to find solutions.

“It’s a long-term problem, we didn’t get here easily and it’s not going to be a quick fix,” said Coupland, who did say community needs to be assured patient care is still excellent, but not optimal.

“Until things change, we probably can’t optimize it and we really need to change things because I’ll tell you, there is potential for patient care to deteriorate given the circumstances and the cracks are definitely showing,” he said.



news@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Comox Valley are investigating a break and enter at a store on Denman Island. File photo
Thief steals Denman Island store’s charity jar

Comox Valey RCMP also looking for witnesses to Dove Creek injury

Former 19 Wing Commander Mike Atkins is the new CEO of the Comox Valley Airport. Photo submitted
Comox Valley Airport Commission announces new CEO

Alex Robertson is serving as acting CEO since Fred Bigelow’s departure for medical leave last year

A group gathers for a guided story walk at the Comox Valley Art Gallery plaza. Scott Stanfield photo
Comox Valley arts-based project takes honest look at overdose crisis

The Comox Valley Art Gallery, and AVI Health and Community Services are… Continue reading

The Comox Valley campus of North Island Hospital. File photo
Comox-Strathcona still on track to pay down new hospital debt

Reserves for capital projects should increase over annual debt in 2023-24

The Baynes Sound Connector cable ferry. Black Press file photo
Baynes Sound Connector delayed due to emergency call

Paddleboarder was in distress near Union Bay Thursday

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Most Read