MHC AGM provides upbeat message of financial stability

LITTLE CURRENT – Manitoulin Health Centre (MHC) held its annual general meeting on June 24 through the video conferencing application Zoom. Board chair Terry Olmstead began the meeting by remarking on the extraordinary year and recognizing “the exceptional care our staff, physicians and volunteers have continued to provide to our patients and their families this year.”

In addition to offering personal thanks to the board members for their volunteer commitment of time and MHC CEO Lynn Foster and her team who “have worked diligently to strengthen the Manitoulin Health Collaborative,” Mr. Olmstead singled out CFO Tim Vine, vice president clinical services and chief nursing officer Paula Fields and Lori Mastelko for special thanks as they “stepped forward this year to lead the way during Lynn’s absence. The ship stayed on course and continued to provide quality service. This is a sign of a strong team.”

Mr. Olmstead noted that chief of staff Dr. Stephen Cooper will be moving to a new role as chief medical information officer, serving as a bridge between medical and information technology departments at the hospital. Dr. Cooper has served as chief of staff for the past 13 years. Mr. Olmstead welcomed Dr. Simone Meikleham to the position of chief of staff effective September 1.

Mr. Olmstead also welcomed Samantha Smockum, who is the new director of human resources at the hospital, and expressed regrets that Wikwemikong Tribal Police Service chief Terry McCaffrey is leaving the board.

The chair provided special recognition to Dr. Mike Bedard, “who not only continued to provide excellent guidance to the board, but found time to reach out to us and ease many of the rumours and concerns about COVID-19. Perhaps he should have a regular podcast; his information and socks were very popular on the Island.”

He went on to recognize the efforts of the two MHC auxiliaries, Mindemoya and Little Current, whose efforts remain undaunted despite the restrictions the pandemic has placed on their fundraising efforts.

Mr. Olmstead thanked Ms. Mastelko and Lee Ann Fawcett for their efforts in keeping the board “organized, fed, watered and on time.”

“The coming year will be focused on fundraising and expansion primarily, while keeping a vigilant eye on the quality of service provided to our patients,” concluded Mr. Olmstead before providing a closing expression of gratitude to “all of our dedicated staff, doctors and volunteers. It is through your dedication, hard work and caring hearts that MHC will achieve ‘Patients First.’

MHC CEO Lynn Foster delivered a report utilizing the letters of COVID as a base—following through with C: “construction, campaign (referencing exceeding the fundraising committee goal of $1.4 million and Sharon Terry’s contribution of the tag line ‘Let’s Emerg Together’), creativity, collaboration and consent agenda;” O included organizational culture, Ontario Health Team self-assessment application and opportunities; V included values and vision; I included innovation; and D concluded with development and departures.

Ms. Foster also recognized Dr. Bedard, “for his sage advice,” and Mr. McCaffrey for his service. “I would like to pause and acknowledge with high respect and great esteem Tim (Vine), Paula (Fields) and Lori (Mastelko),” she said. “In my short absence over the winter, without hesitation they jumped in and carried on, ensuring smooth operations. As I returned, they were kind, patient and understanding.”

Outgoing chief of staff Dr. Cooper took the opportunity of his final AGM report to reflect briefly on his 13-year career as chief of staff. First among his focus was the engagement of physicians in supporting MHC. “I wanted to ensure that all MHC physicians actively participated on MHC committee,” he said. “Surprisingly, this was not the norm at the start of my career at MHC.”

He went on to note a focus on quality, building external connections, building local connections (including the Manitoulin Collaborative for clinical leaders and mental health), support of professional staff health and better definition of the role of the chief of staff among the highlights of that career.

Dr. Cooper thanked a large number of people, including first the presidents of medical staff, chief nursing officers and to the CEOs who he lauded for being supportive. Dr. Cooper singled out former CEO Derek Graham. “My legacy at MHC will be tied to that of Derek Graham, my time as COS was almost entirely during his leadership.” He also thanked the board chairs he has worked with and Ms. Mastelko. “It is impossible to express how key she has been for me over my entire career as COS,” he said. “She tells me what to do and then reminds me to do it (again), all the time with kindness and patience.”

The Mindemoya Auxiliary Inc. report delivered by president Judy Mackenzie noted that the organization has a full slate of members, but new members are always welcome. Among the accomplishments listed were the Central Manitoulin Homecoming bake sale last year, netting $403, the sale of all but 15 books of raffle tickets that brought in $2,636.05 and the efforts of Jan McQuay and her group of potters whose bowl sales brought in $1,318. The annual Tour de Meldrum secured $10,282.50 and the afghan donated by Marion Mason to the hospice suite and the annual luncheon bazaar netted a further $3,562. Merdick McFarlane has also created a CD ‘Songs of Manitoulin,’ a portion of profits from which go to the auxiliary and $1,607.85 left over from the Nevada account went toward the purchase of a Barb Edwards’ stained glass ‘Sunrise’ which will be placed at the end of the hall near the hospice suite.

“We donated $25,322.11 toward the capital list from MHC,” said Ms. Mackenzie, listing the other expenses for cable and headsets for televisions and the supply of patient care bags and tray covers for special occasions. One hundred thousand dollars was donated to the Mindemoya hospital emergency department renovation and expansion.” 

While many fundraising efforts have been curtailed by the pandemic, the auxiliary was instrumental in the making of just over 600 cloth masks.

The Manitoulin Health Centre Auxiliary (Little Current) report was presented by Dave Sylvester. “September started off well,” he said, noting a $2,600 donation from the Rainbow Cruisers and the successful book sales, well up from previous years. The auxiliary chose to purchase an incubator for blood culture bottles in the lab at a cost of $16,950. A fundraiser for personal protective equipment raised $1,400. Two bursaries of $500 were provided to high school students at Manitoulin Secondary School who anticipate a career in medicine.

The auxiliary has had to postpone its 75th anniversary celebrations, which it hopes to be able to observe come fall.

The auditors’ report was delivered by Kirby Houle of Freelandt Caldwell Reilly. Mr. Houle delivered a clean opinion, with a slight surplus of $26,175 resulting from increased revenues (up three percent) of $19.7 million. The hospital has $22.576 million in assets, he reported.

The nominating committee recommended the re-election of Dennis McGregor, Don Brisbois and Derek Debassige to the board and the election to a full three-year term of Tom Ondrejicka.

The audit committee recommended that Freelandt Caldwell Reilly Chartered Accountants be appointed as auditors for 2020-2021.