NS Health tries to reinvent the wheel

For several weeks the CBC have been reporting about the successful doctor recruitment program exercised by Nanaimo, B.C. and Goderich, Ontario. Both communities have sold doctors on the idea of living and working in each place.

Both communities made their recruiters available to answer questions and arrange services on the ground. Goderich and Nanaimo sold their destinations as desirable places to live and work. This is somehow considered a revolutionary idea. It’s only revolutionary to reporters who don’t hire people and overly bureaucratic operations, like the Nova Scotia Health Authority, which lacks people skills.

This is a 4,000-year-old Roman wheel. It’s round and still rolls. NSHA would have to study the theory of a wheel before accepting its functionality.

Once again, health care executives try to re-invent the wheel.

In my 40+ year career it was and is standard practice for an employer to help a new hire transition into the community. As an employer if we hired someone from outside the community or if I was recruited to move, accommodation leads were provided. I was told about the community and what it offered. I was taken around and introduced to people. Banks used to rotate young staff throughout their system as part of the training process, so the banks maintained an inventory of suitable accommodations for their staff. It’s not rocket science, it’s a version of the Welcome Wagon.

In 2013 I added a page called Doctor Recruitment (see above). As an example of what companies do to attract and keep staff, I wrote: “Earlier in my career I was publisher of The Kings Country Record in Sussex, New Brunswick. While I was there, Denison Mines decided to develop a potash mine in the neighbouring community of Penobsquis. Denison’s vice president of human resources flew from Toronto to meet with me. He did that because of my age and marital status. I was a single executive in my 20s. He wanted to know about life outside the office. He said, “If I’m going to ask people to transfer from Toronto with all the nightlife and cultural options they have there, what can I promise these highly-motivated professionals?””

Health care is supposed to be about people. So why is it so thick, so unresponsive, when it comes to human resources? The NSHA and its executives don’t have a good record for recruitment, retention or respect. When health executives speak of “patient-centred care” that’s not a philosophy, but a reminder to them of their media training and speaking points.

This week the government announced it was topping up doctors’ pay by $39.6 million. That’s positive. What is less positive is the fact that just before this we learned the NSHA was comfortable spending $10 million to litigate a losing case against an individual doctor.

And last week I ran into a just-retired front-line health worker. She had worked for the Annapolis Valley District Health Authority for 28.5 years. She had over 1,000 banked sick days – days she could have taken off, but didn’t – and at the end of her career no one from the health authority said good bye, gave her a card or in any way acknowledged her three decades of service or retirement. She ended her shift and walked out the door. Period.

Hers is a telling experience because health care is riddled with early retirements of people who love their work, love making a difference to patients, but are fed up with the shit they take from disconnected, inconsiderate and inconsistent executives.

Given our history it makes you wonder why anyone would work for this crowd.

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2 Responses to NS Health tries to reinvent the wheel

  1. buddyboy546 says:

    It has been my consistent experience that the health care provided by front line workers is superb, while the executive management of those workers and the system they work in leaves much to be desired. The biggest issue, in my mind, is NHSA secrecy – secret board meetings and no published minutes of those meetings. How can we ever have faith in and support a system that operates in secrecy? If a light was shone on the NSHA meetings we could see what is going on and effect solutions. Only fools support such secrecy in a public body such as this.

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