MHC celebrates new strategic plan

The unveiling of the new MHC strategic plan took the work of many community partners and MHC team members including, from left, Paula Fields, Kenn Pitawanakwat, Geraldine Ense-McGregor, Angela Becks, Terry Olmstead, Nicole St. Georges, Tim Vine, Robin Ense and Lynn Foster. photo by Warren Schlote

LITTLE CURRENT – It was all smiles, singing and toe-tapping last week when Manitoulin Health Centre (MHC) unveiled its strategic plan for the years 2019 to 2024, named “Patient-Centred Care through Quality and Collaboration.”

“It promises to raise our bar even higher, keeping our values of respect, passion and truth at the forefront,” said Lynn Foster, president and CEO of MHC. “We have a relatively new senior team and I felt it fitting that we should work on a new strategic plan.” 

All 40 chairs in the boardroom at the Little Current hospital site were filled as the presentation began. It opened with Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Don’t Stop,’ a song that embraces looking toward the future. The lyrics to the song were printed on the event’s program and all attendees were encouraged to sing along.

Tim Vine, MHC’s chief financial officer and VP of corporate support welcomed the attendees to the meeting alongside director of human resources Nicole St. Georges. The two served as the emcees for the event and soon called upon Noojmowin Teg Health Centre traditional healer Kenn Pitawanakwat for an opening prayer.

Board of directors chair Terry Olmstead spoke next, followed by strategic planning committee chair Angela Becks.

“The MHC team has invested a great deal of energy and time to ensure we have established the right goals in the new plan,” said Mr. Olmstead. “Striving for a quality, patient-first care experience also embeds the culture of our First Nation communities on Manitoulin Island within our care practices.”

In the spirit of including Indigenous traditions, the reverse side of the strategic plan summary was translated into Anishinaabemowin. The strategic planning committee itself was made up of a number of people from different backgrounds which helped to reinforce this mission.

“This group of very good heads used an evolutionary approach. Attempts were made to include the perceptions, language and memories that reflected the committee’s individual adaptations,” said Ms. Becks.

Geraldine Ense-McGregor and Robin Ense of the M’Chigeeng Women’s Hand Drum Group performed ‘To All Our Relations,’ and explained the meaning of the words and who they were addressing with each verse.

The new strategic plan is rooted in three core values: respect, passion and trust. These three will be present throughout the operations and literature of MHC and work to inform the organization of its overall goals. 

“There’s lots of phrases that could describe our values, but they always seemed to start with one of these three,” said Ms. Foster.

The strategic plan can be summarized in five main areas. Under vision, the plan states MHC’s dedication to “put patients first as we lead and collaborate with our partners.” Then, under the mission heading, it states MHC’s aim “to contribute to the health and well-being of all who come to us in need.” These statements are carried forward from the previous plan.

The values section elaborated on the meaning of respect, passion and truth, with respect serving to mean embracing difference, honouring beliefs and responding with kindness and care. Passion referred to MHC’s drive to exceed requirements in all they do and how they do it. Truth reflected the team’s commitment to remain true to themselves, their responsibilities and doing the right thing.

Next was the three main strategic directions for the health centre. MHC stated it aims to ground quality in patient experiences, to reflect First Nations culture within its care practices and to unleash the power of leadership in all team members.

Finally, MHC listed six strategic goals for its operations: to weave quality into all areas of its operations, improve physical space and flow, reach for a unified organizational culture, make a difference through targeted skills and knowledge transfer, influence and implement health system transformation and strengthen cultural awareness, competence and safety.

“Today, we pause in reflection of our contributions to our community and our patients, and contemplate what is needed to support future patient care on Manitoulin,” said Ms. Foster.

“If we look to tomorrow, the MHC team is ready to dive in and breathe life into our three overarching directions,” she said.

After Ms. Foster addressed the room, VP clinical and chief nursing officer Paula Fields presented a video about the new plan that featured members of the Manitoulin health community.

“It sets out our goals and objectives and keeps us grounded on a day-to-day basis. We are there for our community, we’re there for their health, we’re there when we’re needed,” said patient and family advisor Bill Cranston. “I’m confident our plan will meet our needs and theirs.”

Ms. Fields also introduced MHC’s revamped, responsive website,, and said the new website “provides us with the opportunity to keep our communities well-informed of the services that MHC provides, display our dedication to our strategic plan and showcase the patient-centered approach that the MHC team is known for and is committed to.”

The strategic planning committee has been hard at work on the revamp for the past 18 months. Ms. Becks noted that the new strategic plan builds off the old plan as a base.

Mr. Pitawanakwat concluded the day’s schedule with a blessing. At the end of the presentation, all in attendance received a wristband reflecting the new three core values, as well as a lapel pin with the values arranged in a circular pattern around the central MHC logo.

Ms. Foster said the circle component reinforces the notion that this philosophy will exist in all the work MHC does and that it will be an ongoing process. She noted that the first letter of each core value (R, P, T) also makes up a short form of the word “repeat,” which also serves as an adopted ‘backronym’ to emphasize its constant presence within the organization.

Ms. Foster said the new document will provide the teams an overall sense of the direction of the organization, and each department will work on their own operating manuals for how to best incorporate the key messages.