Highlights of the Board of Directors public meeting

Moncton, September 24, 2013 – The Board of Directors of Vitalité Health Network held its regular public meeting on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 in Moncton.

Priority given to quality care and services

Vitalité Health Network, a partner in your health!

In his report, President and CEO Rino Volpé reiterated the core mission of the Network, which is to ensure the delivery of quality health care services to the population. Service quality is of major importance and the Network must constantly strive to improve in order to meet patient expectations.

Surveys on the experience of inpatients

Recently, the Network revamped its satisfaction survey to be better informed about the experience of patients in the hospital setting. The regional survey is now used systematically and consistently in all hospital facilities within the organization. The most recent results show that the Network obtained high levels of satisfaction in several aspects of health care, e.g. privacy respected (93%) and staff polite and courteous (92%) The overall levels of satisfaction are lower for some indicators, including meals (66%) and peace and quiet (79%). “The Network plans on using these results to find a way to improve its services, which will then result in concrete measures to increase the patient satisfaction,” said Volpé.

Better understanding the needs of the population

Always with a view to providing quality services, it is essential for the Network to have a better understanding of the needs of the population. Need assessments that will be carried out in various communities will make it possible to draw up a list of health and wellness challenges to inform the Network in order to better assign resources when planning services. These assessments are also aimed at improving citizen involvement and engagement. Communities where the first assessments will be made will be announced shortly.

Measuring up to the best – four-year accreditation

Volpé stressed that the four-year accreditation status recently granted to the Network really shows the priority given to service quality.

For a better performing organization

8% decrease in operating expenses

The Network’s operating expenses (before salaries and benefits) decreased by 8% compared to the same period last year, the first five months of the current fiscal year, i.e. April to August 2013. This is the highlight of the operational and financial performance summary presented by the President and CEO. “It’s an encouraging sign but we are still facing challenges, as salaries and benefits have increased by 2.2% in spite of a reduction of 215 full time equivalents (FTEs).” The Network’s total expenditures for that period (before the physicians’ salaries) decreased by 0.5%, which represents an operational surplus of about $8 million. The Network always strives to better perform in terms of resource utilization.

Better managing overtime and sick leave hours

It is noted that from April to August 2013, overtime decreased by 12.3% and the amount of sick leave by 1.4%. The objective of the Network is to reduce sick leave hours by 10% within three years with 4% in 2013-2014. An action plan is in place to help the Network reach this target.  Volpé reiterated that better overtime and sick leave management remains a priority. The President and CEO stressed that sick leave hours cost the Network over $18 million in 2012-2013.

Improving performance and productivity by 2% each year

Current analyses show that if nothing is done, health expenditures could increase by more than 4% every year by 2020, which would represent additional expenditures of $100 million per year for health care in New Brunswick. According to Volpé, work must continue to identify and implement performance and productivity improvement measures that will contribute to annual savings equalling 2% of the Network’s operating budget. Thus, expenditures will be maintained at a threshold of about 2%, which corresponds to the financial resources we have to live within our means. “We can achieve this objective while maintaining, and even improving, the quality of services we provide,” stated Volpé. “Changes are needed if we want to preserve the public and universal health care system for future generations.”

Better planning and better management of resources

In February 2013, the Network announced a three-year plan to improve its performance in order to reduce the annual rate of increase in expenditures. This plan includes a reduction of 400 full time equivalents (FTEs) with a first series of 200 FTEs the first year. According to the President and CEO, almost 164 FTEs have already been cut, most of which were non-unionized positions in administration, administrative support, and clinical support, totalling annualized savings of $18 million in 2013-2014.

Still according to Volpé, extensive benchmarking against national standards and best practices allowed the Network to identify opportunities to improve its performance, standardize several of its processes, and achieve efficiencies. “In order to do this, work teams were set up in all our facilities for the various sectors with high potential savings. Action plans are being developed to be implemented as soon as possible and thus increase productivity in our hospitals.”

The Network continues to work on improving its performance in several hospital care sectors by adjusting its work force based on recognized standards. “Today I announce additional cuts of 74 FTEs within the Network,” said Volpé. The targeted positions are:

  • Administrative support, licensed practical nurses, patient care attendants: 63 FTEs
  • Registered nurses: 9 FTEs
  • Paramedic group: 1 FTE
  • Specialized health care professionals group: 1 FTE

These measures represent annualized savings of $4 million for 2013-2014.

This means that a total of 238 FTEs will be cut from the organization’s workforce in 2013-2014, affecting mostly administrative and support services.

The President and CEO stressed that all processes must be systematically reviewed and difficult decisions must be made to achieve tangible results to ensure the sustainability of the system. “We are facing major challenges but I know I can count on the engagement of employees and physicians to do this,” he said.

Employees distinguished themselves

As for the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Paul Couturier, he stressed the achievements of three Network employees who distinguished themselves on the provincial and national levels. Suzanne Robichaud and Liette Mainville received awards of merit from the Nurses Association of New Brunswick. Ms. Robichaud received an award of merit in administration while Ms. Mainville received an award of merit in nursing practice. These awards are granted every two years and recognize excellence in various nursing practice fields. Mireille Lanouette, for her part, received an award from the Canadian College of Health Leaders. This award was granted to her to recognize her outstanding contribution as a member of the New Brunswick Chapter of the national association, which is dedicated to ensuring that the country’s health system benefits from capable, competent and effective leadership.