Report says Nanaimo Hospital culture is leading to ‘self destruction’

Report says Nanaimo Hospital culture is leading to 'self destruction'

WATCH: A cultural assessment says Nanaimo Hospital is “failing significantly in regard to managing people.” Kendall Hanson has more. 

A scathing report says Nanaimo General Hospital is “failing significantly in regard to managing people” after surveying staff and executives.

A long list of criticisms was provided by Vector Group of Denver, Colo. who surveyed 473 people who work at the hospital to prepare the “cultural assessment” report.

Initial findings said there is too much focus on budget and not enough on people while allowing a toxic culture to exist.

“I wasn’t shocked but what this report really does. It’s acknowledgement,” said Dr David Coupland, vice-president of the Nanaimo Medical Engagement Society. “It validates and legitimizes the concerns and issues raised by health care workers over the past couple of years.”

Presenting how well the Nanaimo General Hospital is doing from the survey, the study concluded: “there is an atmosphere of fear, bullying, intimidation, retaliation and not allowing people to raise questions, issues and concerns.”

The survey also found hospital employees believe “there is a high value of cronyism and nepotism in recruiting, hiring and promoting,” and that physicians feel excluded from decision-making processes.

When those interviewed were asked if they would recommend NRGH as a good place to work, “no” was the “almost universal response,” though no percentage was given.

Vector Group says the organizational culture is passed the tipping point adding people have become the least-valued commodity in the system.

The report presented seven points to alter the culture, starting with management as a whole agreeing on required behaviours they are willing to be held accountable for.

It also says managers of people should spend significant effort focused on those individuals, with a metric system for tracking behaviours put in place.

“There is a real call to action in the results here,”Jennifer Whiteside of the Hospital Employees Union. “The situation is really so extreme that the health authority absolutely has to find a way to respond immediately and in a meaningful and significant way.”

Island Health is being applauded for releasing the report just days after it was completed.

The health authority agrees everyone from the CEO down is partly responsible for the survey’s findings.

“We thought that as local leadership the most important thing we could do was to own that take that head on and start to work with our staff through that vulnerability and timeliness component to start the healing process,” said Damian Lange, Island Health’s director of clinical operations at NRGH.

The Nanaimo medical engagement society believes change can only come with a new approach to leadership and with a new board about to pick a new CEO, that opportunity exists now.

“It’s somewhat disheartening and discouraging but at times like these, you have a real opportunity. If you’re optimistic it’s a real opportune time to make a change,” said Dr. Coupland.

All involved say, a change of culture will take time but all agree that shedding light on the issue is the first step to making much-needed changes at Nanaimo’s largest employer.

NGRH Cultural Assessment Report

Andy NealAndy Neal

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