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Eastern Health outlines achievements, future challenges at AGM

Eastern Health CEO David Diamond speaks at the regional health authority's 2017 AGM, held Wednesday at the Carbonear Long-Term Care Facility.
Eastern Health CEO David Diamond speaks at the regional health authority's 2017 AGM, held Wednesday at the Carbonear Long-Term Care Facility.

CARBONEAR, NL — Eastern Health CEO David Diamond highlighted the regional health authority's recent accomplishments, and also alluded to work that lies ahead during its annual general meeting Wednesday.

Speaking at the Carbonear Long-Term Care Facility, Diamond provided an overview of the organization's strategic priorities and how Eastern Health has addressed them over the past year.

The need to improve hand hygiene was among the items Diamond spoke about in relation to quality and safety. He said the organization has typically operated in the 65 per cent compliance range. Setting a target for 2016-17 of 75 per cent, Eastern Health reached and exceeded that mark in the final quarter, achieving 80 per cent compliance. Since then, Diamond said that number has approached 85 per cent.

"Now you might say hand hygiene, washing your hands in health care — that should be a fairly straightforward, simple thing. But you know, it's not," said Diamond, adding the auditing process to track compliance is fairly technical.

On the access front, Diamond noted that Eastern Health exceeded the national benchmark in emergency departments for patients to see a doctor or nurse within three hours of arrival. The national benchmark is 90 per cent, and Eastern Health reached 91.1 per cent in 2016-17 — an improvement of almost four percentage points over the previous fiscal year.

"We're really pleased by that," said Diamond, acknowledging too the need for additional work to address access issues.

Sick leave usage was reduced from 151.5 hours per full-time equivalent position in 2015-16 to 147.8 in the last fiscal year. In 2014-15, that figure stood at 162 hours on average. Diamond said this improves Eastern Health's sustainability on both a financial and service level.

In population health, Diamond highlighted collaborative partnerships devoted to rural health. To address increased cases of suicide on the Burin Peninsula, Eastern Health has worked with groups in the region to see how it might reorganize mental health services.

On the Bonavista Peninsula, the health authority established a team to engage residents and learn more about the region's health needs. Eastern Health has tested some technology-aided approaches to improve service there. Moving on to downtown St. John's, Diamond spoke of a collaborative approach to offer primary care to marginalized populations.

2017 marks the final year of Eastern Health’s last strategic plan, and now its moving forward with the new 2017-2020 initiative called "Lighting the Way: Navigating Together." It will continue to work on the four strategic priorities previously outlined, while also delving into measures designed to create a healthy workplace.

editor@cbncompass.ca

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