Nova Scotia Health holds 2019-20 annual general meeting online

NSHA - Standing by each other through COVID-19

The Board of Directors of Nova Scotia Health held its 2019-20 annual general meeting online Tuesday afternoon. The virtual format itself represents an adaptation to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, like many the organization has had to make since the preparations for its arrival began in January.

The theme of this year’s meeting was “Our People: Our Pride.”

Frank van Schaayk, chair of the Nova Scotia Health board of directors told more than 300 people registered to view the meeting online that while people have always been our pride, our people have shown exceptional agility and resilience this year as they worked hard to provide the service and care Nova Scotians needed through a number of challenges, including COVID-19.

“COVID-19 has taught us many important lessons,” he said. “It has demonstrated that when we are focused on a common purpose, we can be agile and responsive to meet the needs of those we serve. It’s reminded us of the importance of collaboration with partners, and of the value and need for local partnerships to secure much-needed supplies, like personal protective equipment. But it has also shone a light on inequities that already existed in community and reminded us that focusing on the social determinants of health is vital to achieving our vision of healthy people, healthy communities – for generations.”

The meeting also highlighted other achievements of the organization during 2019-20 including work to:

  • strengthen family practice teams and recruit family doctors
  • more than 70,000 Nova Scotians found a primary care provider and 129 doctors, including 62 family doctors, started practice in the province  
  • improve access, promote wellness and improve quality of care and life for Nova Scotians who need hip and knee surgery
  • increased volume of hip and knee replacement surgeries by 25 per cent since 2015, hired more than 90 additional providers including innovative and enabling roles such as RN first assistants, physician assistants, and orthopedic nurse practitioners 
  • ensure that people experiencing mental health issues and/or harmful substance use or gambling are enabled to manage their conditions and work towards recovery
  • increased the percentage of urgent cases meeting the wait time target of seven days to 96 per cent, up from 89 per cent  
  • redevelop and modernize our health system infrastructure
  • support research and innovation
  • work with our communities to improve health and wellness
  • balance the budget for a fifth straight year

The 2019-20 annual report and financial documents are available to read http://www.nshealth.ca/AnnualReport2019-20.

Dr. Brendan Carr assumed the role of President and CEO of Nova Scotia Health in mid-December.

“Brendan barely had the opportunity to re-familiarize himself with the organization when COVID-19 hit Nova Scotia,” said Mr. van Schaayk. “His leadership has been steadfast and I’ve particularly appreciated his work to engage in meaningful ways with the organization and its stakeholders.”

Dr. Carr said when he arrived in December he looked forward to connecting with teams and partners across the province to better understand where to put focus and energy to help move our priorities forward. 

“It’s fair to say, my first six months have not gone as planned,” he said. “While I’ve not been able to meet as many people in person as I had hoped, the past six months has certainly accelerated my reintroduction to Nova Scotia’s health system and given me great insight into the capabilities, strength and character of the people who work, learn and volunteer in this organization.”

Mr. van Schaayk also addressed racial injustice and the lack of diversity on Nova Scotia Health’s board of directors. The board acknowledged a need to have more diverse voices at the table and has been working to achieve that. Mr. van Schaayk announced at the meeting that the newest member of the board, would also be the first indigenous member. Stephen Augustine, who joins the board July 8, is the associate vice-president, Indigenous Affairs and Unama’ki College at Cape Breton University.

“We know he will bring valuable perspectives and insights to conversation and decision-making at NSHA,” Mr. van Schaayk said. “However, we also know that having one racially diverse person on a 13-person board that represents an organization of more than 23,000 people does not equate to equitable representation. As we move forward, we will be intentionally seeking out additional board members of diverse races and backgrounds, knowing that this diversity of experiences and perspectives will help us better meet the needs of Nova Scotians.”

Also joining the board are Susan Spence, vice-provost, planning and analytics at Dalhousie University, and Mark Surrette, former president, Knightsbridge Robertson Surrette. Dr. Cindy Forbes will become a voting member from a non-voting member.

Mr. van Schaayk also thanked retiring board members Vicki Harnish, Jaime Smith, John Rogers, and vice-chair George Unsworth.

-30-

Provincial media line: 1-844-483-3344
NSHAmedia@nshealth.ca