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

LRCA Volunteer Counselling Program receives $7,500 boost from Oyster Bay Microtel

The Microtel raised funds through the MasterBUILT Common Ground program

B.C. salmon farms challenge activists’ demands for site closures

News reporting also unfair, inaccurate and distorted

Ladysmith man arrested in Saanich after towed sawmill draws attention

Police located the man thanks to social media and a keen-eyed witness

Killer whales cause a scene

WHALE OF A TALE Art Carlyle captured these images of killer whales… Continue reading

Ladysmith man shocked out of his seat after $50,000 Keno win

Larry Salmond plans to purchase a new RV with his winnings

Orange Shirt Society launches first textbook on residential school history

Phyllis Webstad and Joan Sorley worked on the 156-page book to help educate students

Horgan vows to replace B.C.’s shared senior care rooms in 10 years

$1.4 billion construction on top of staff raises, single-site work

More sex abuse charges laid against B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’

Investigators now focussing efforts on alleged victims within the Glad Tidings Church community

Orange Shirt Day lessons of past in today’s classrooms

Phyllis Webstad, who attended St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School in British Columbia, is credited for creating the movement

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Greens’ Furstenau fires at NDP, Liberals on pandemic recovery, sales tax promise

She also criticized the NDP economic recovery plan, arguing it abandons the tourism industry

Wildfire smoke expected to blanket to Vancouver Island again

Conditions expected to worsen Wednesday afternoon

U.S. Presidential Debate Takeaways: An acrid tone from the opening minute

Here are key takeaways from the first of three scheduled presidential debates before Election Day on Nov. 3

Most Read