Social Development Minister Dorothy Shephard has seen health and long-term care reform from the inside out. She was the Minister of Health during the pandemic when times were crazy and she was trying to get the first steps of Health Reform initiated. Given the context with a failed first attempt at health reform, prior to her term, combined with the insanity caused by the pandemic, she gave it her best shot. She was involved in the consultations that were promised, compromised again due to the necessity to do so much virtually with Zoom technology. A poor substitute for face-to-face communication.
Now she is back in the Department of Social Development in which strong attempts are being made, with a superb team of senior civil servants, to get long-term care reformed. The issues in the failure of long-term care in this province are now legendary with hundreds of empty long term care beds, challenges in recruiting and retaining skilled staff, little political or public understanding of the real issues that prevent the long-term care system from functioning like a well-oiled machine.
I remember his voice from 60 years ago when Prof. Arnold Cook lectured beginning business students, and I was one, on the principles of what makes for a good organization that grows and develops. The principles of clear accountability, shared vision, strong leadership have been my guiding principles in large and small organizations that I have directed over the last half century. The organizations that grow and survive have shown that Prof. Cook was absolutely correct, and some of them are outlined in Good to Great, the classic Jim Collins book that describes what it takes to take an organization from “good” to “great”.
Transpose that basic thinking then to health and long-term care in New Brunswick and think, for a moment, of the issues that have caused so much nasty public discussion in recent years, particularly the last three.
Ken McGeorge, BS,DHA,CHE is a career health care executive based in Fredericton, NB, Canada.