Thursday, 30 November 2017 11:48

Cypress Health board members reflect on their work at final meeting

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Board Chair Lyle Quintin (at left) and interim CEO Larry Allsen at the final meeting of the Cypress Regional Health Authority board of directors, Nov. 22. Board Chair Lyle Quintin (at left) and interim CEO Larry Allsen at the final meeting of the Cypress Regional Health Authority board of directors, Nov. 22.

There was some reflection on the achievements of the Cypress Health Region over the past 15 years at the final board meeting before the launch of a single provincial health authority in Saskatchewan.


The Saskatchewan Health Authority will become operational on Dec. 4, when all employees and activities of 12 regional health authorities in the province will transfer to the new organization.
The board of directors of the Cypress Regional Health Authority held their final meeting in Swift Current, Nov. 22.
Board Chair Lyle Quintin served on the board since 2009. He was appointed chairperson in October 2015. He thanked the board members and he expressed gratitude to the health region's senior leadership team.
“They taught me so much in the many years that I've been here, particularly in these last three,” he said. “I thought I knew a lot, but it was a fantastic education.”
Larry Stephens, a board member from Swift Current, is convinced the transition to the new health authority will be a success.
“As fearful as it may seem right now, I know we can come through it,” he said.
He thanked the other board members and the senior leadership, and noted that his time on the board has been memorable.
Terry Wilson, also a Swift Current board member, thanked all the board members and staff for the challenges and the rewarding experience.
“I just loved every minute of it, and I'm going to miss you all,” she said.
Pam Busby, the vice chairperson from Leader, had a very brief farewell message to the meeting.
“Cypress rocks,” she said to applause from around the table.
Ron Heeg of Swift Current has served a number of terms on the board. He expressed his appreciation to the other board members and the senior leadership team.
“It has been a privilege to work with you, I learned a lot,” he said.
Cypress Health interim CEO Larry Allsen thanked the board on behalf of the senior leadership team.
“I got to say you guys weren't a rubber stamp,” he mentioned. “There were times when you actually challenged us as a senior team when we brought things forward. We did have to bring things back to explain it better, which is part of your job as governance. So I appreciate the fact that you actually kept us on our toes at times.”
Bryce Martin, the vice president for primary health care, said it was a pleasure to work with the board members.
“I think the communities of the southwest have been served well by the Cypress Health Region in the past,” he said. “They'll continue to be served well into the future under the health authority. There's always going to be challenges when it comes to health care. ... Health care will continue, it will just continue in a different way from an organizational perspective, but I think you should hold your heads high as a board. You have served the health region and the Minister of Health very well in southwest Saskatchewan.”
Allsen provided an overview of highlights since the Cypress Health Region was established on Aug. 1, 2002 through the amalgamation of the former Rolling Hills, Southwest and Swift Current health districts.
He felt the Cypress Health Region will leave a significant legacy with regard to capital infrastructure.
“Our region is leaving the Saskatchewan Health Authority with a good infrastructure in the southwest,” he said.
Close to $200 million was spent on capital infrastructure in the Cypress Health Region. In Swift Current this includes the Cypress Regional Hospital in 2007 and the new long-term care facility, The Meadows, in 2016. The healthcare facilities in Herbert were integrated in 2006, the Southwest Integrated Healthcare Facility in Maple Creek was completed in 2015, and the new Leader and District Integrated Healthcare Facility is nearing completion.
“So I think we can be proud that our community partners and us as a region pushed hard for some of these buildings to be replaced,” he said.
At the same time the health region was fiscally responsible. There were balanced budgets every year and 13 of the 15 budgets had a surplus.
“We generated surpluses of over $14.5 million, and re-invested $6 million of that into capital and infrastructure,” he said.
According to Allsen it was already evident 10 years ago that budgets will start to tighten, and the health region was proactive.
“We made hard decisions,” he said. “We put things in place to make our region sustainable with the funding that we get and sometimes that doesn't sit well with people because they feel that services are eroding, but I think we did a really good job.”
There were various initiatives and innovations to improve health care in the region. Cypress Health implemented seven primary health care sites, and a collaborative emergency centre was established in Shaunavon.
There were investments in digital x-ray machines and Cypress Health was the first region to fully implement digital x-ray in 2007. There were investments in CT scanners, and a midwifery program, one of only three in the province, was launched in 2010.
Concepts such as patient family centred care and the home-like model of long-term care were introduced.
The health region partnered with the University of Saskatchewan to start a family medicine residency program in Swift Current. There were partnerships with the University of Regina, Saskatchewan Polytechnic (formerly SIAST) and Great Plains College to offer the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program and the continuing care assistant program in Swift Current.
“I believe we have to be pretty proud of the things we’ve accomplished,” he said. “We’re a small region in comparison to three or four of the big ones, but that didn’t mean we weren’t afraid of taking on a challenge. So I’m proud of what we’ve done here in Cypress.”
There will be changes to management and managerial structures during the transfer to the new Saskatchewan Health Authority, but the frontline service delivery will still continue.
“There's always going to be somebody who you know who you're going to report to,” Allsen said after the meeting. “It's not that you're going to be out there floundering around. .... We can't let the system stop.”
The Saskatchewan Health Authority's head office will be located in Saskatoon, but a distributed executive leadership model will be used and senior management staff will be located in different communities across the province.
The new structure will include community advisory networks, which Allsen believes will be an important way for communities to have a voice in the management of health services.
“The thing people have to realize is these can't just be networks that, when you think you have an issue, then you go to these meetings,” he said. “These community advisory networks need to be up and running and involved with what's happening, not just when there is an issue. even when things are going good, to make sure that the communities understand ... and that everybody understands how services need to be provided and where they need to be provided.”

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Matthew Liebenberg

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