A Conversation
with Cliff Nordal,

President and Chief Executive Officer

What were the highlights of the past year at London Health Sciences Centre?

Thanks to the dedication of leaders, physicians, staff and volunteers, there were many noteworthy accomplishments over the year.
Cliff Nordal, LHSC President and Chief Executive Officer
The recruitment of more than 500 nurses since January 2007 is a special highlight as it enabled us to reopen closed beds and meet more of the high demand for our services. On the innovation front, we recorded a world first, a North American first and two Canadian firsts in medical care-each chronicled in this report. We also welcomed a green light from the government signaling that the process for completing a major milestone in redevelopment is assuredly a go. This involved the release of a request for proposals to qualified firms to complete the interior of the North Tower at Victoria Hospital, and associated work. We also adopted a new tagline: "Caring for You. Innovating for the World." Our tagline expresses the great pride we take in our strong tradition of care and healthcare innovation.

Was there one highlight particularly significant to you, in your role?

One highlight is the work we completed this year on examining and redefining our organizational shared values. Based on research and consultation with our staff, carried out by an excellent project team, we have articulated three core values: respect, trust and collaboration. Each of these values is supported by behavioural statements to help describe how each of us lives our values at work. Clear core values are known to be fundamental to sustaining high quality service and the progress of organizations in general. They define how we work together and how we serve others.

Why has the hospital embarked upon a strategic planning process now?

Under the sponsorship of our Board of Directors, the senior leadership of London Health Sciences Centre is revisiting the strategic directions set in 2005, which were originally scheduled to be revised in 2009. Given our extensive performance improvement efforts and the changes in Ontario's health system, a refresh of our plan became essential. We will be building upon and enhancing our processes for performance monitoring and accountability with this new strategic plan. The plan will define our priorities and set clear, measurable goals that we will monitor. Ongoing performance monitoring and an annual renewal of the plan will help us to adjust our course toward our objectives over time.

What is the biggest challenge facing the hospital at this time?

There are always challenges in an organization of this scope and complexity. It is difficult to determine which is the biggest—the answer may be different depending on one's role and perspective. One thing we have focused enormous effort on this year is the challenge of optimizing patient access to care. It is not an issue that is unique to our hospital. It is an issue facing hospitals across the province and indeed across Canada. We have been addressing this on multiple fronts throughout our organization using a combination of approaches. We engaged external expertise for several months and mobilized internal project teams to develop the best available tools and techniques for enhancing the flow of patients through our Emergency Rooms, Admitting and General Medicine units. This work is ongoing, but we have made progress. One of the enabling system-level strategies that we are counting upon for the future is the expansion of long-term care beds in our communities and enhanced home support services. This would help to ensure patients are in the right care setting at the right time and that more of our acute care bed capacity is available to those patients needing acute care.

What was the biggest accomplishment for the hospital in 2007-08?

I would have to single out the further progress we have made on the financial front. Although we continue to face significant cost pressures, we have resolved several debt issues, and submitted a balanced budget for the next year. This is creating a more stable operating environment for our programs and certainty for staff recruitment.

What has happened on the people front this year at London Health Sciences Centre?

I've already mentioned the success we have enjoyed in the recruitment of nurses. In addition, LHSC welcomed 45 new physicians, two dentists and three midwives this year. We are truly fortunate to have been able to attract these individuals. Our physicians and staff continue to receive positive feedback from patients and families for the spirit of caring and compassion they demonstrate at the bedside, and the positive responses LHSC receives on the Ontario Hospital Association's patient satisfaction surveys bear this out.

This year we also completed our work on leadership transition. This initiative began two years ago, when we modified our leadership structure complement to create the positions of shared Chief Operating Officer and integrated Vice President Clinical Support Services on our senior leadership team and integrated the majority of senior leadership roles with those at St. Joseph's Health Care, London. The exceptions are the senior leadership positions for the London Regional Cancer Program, Women and Children's Clinical Services, and of course, our Foundations. To complete this process, in the fall of 2007, we filled the role of Integrated Vice President, Planning and Operational Improvement and the position of Senior Director, Human Resources within that new portfolio.

Finally, I want to mention that we have established a healthy workplace committee to strengthen our focus on factors that contribute to a safe, satisfying work environment.

Our staff, physicians, leaders, Board members and volunteers are always at the heart of all we do. I wish to thank them for their commitment to the patients and families that we serve.

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