Have we transformed yet?

Nicole Chammartin is the Executive Director of Klinic and SERC. The work of these organizations focuses on; health, community development, mental health, sexuality, equity, and social justice. In this blog Nicole writes about the important work of these organizations, leadership, and the larger world of community and sexual health.

Unless you are living under a rock, you are probably aware that these are unprecedented times in the Manitoba Healthcare system. The Manitoba Health System Transformation is likely a once in a generation re -working of our healthcare system and at the end of the day there will likely not be many of us living in and around the system that will be untouched.   I imagine that many of us have lots of different thoughts and opinions about that, maybe supportive of some areas, concerned about others, or perhaps completely unaware.

The Manitoba Health System Transformation website makes the following case for support:

Healthcare is the most important – and the most expensive – service provided by the Government of Manitoba. Numerous studies of Manitoba’s health system have concluded that Manitoba’s system is overly complex and, in many cases, acts as a barrier to effective and efficient delivery of services.

As community health based services often delivering care to people and communities who live with very complex needs, it’s not hard to agree that there is room for improvement in our healthcare delivery system.  The harder questions are what is our role? Where do we contribute? And how do we ensure that the voices of those who often are not heard are considered in this planning?

These are not easy questions to answer. I think that when a system this large is going through such significant change, there may be times when we do not feel that new directions align with what we had hoped.  However, in all change there is opportunity.  To be better, to re-consider whether there are other ways to work and meet our goals, and to truly examine what client-centred care really means to the people we serve.

In both Klinic and SERC over the last year, we have been experiencing significant changes as we implement our five-year strategic plan and work with our funders and partners to identify our role in transformation, to examine how we align in this new and rapidly evolving world.  Some of these conversations are easy, some of these conversations are very hard, and all of them are important.  At Klinic, in particular, we are looking for new ways to communicate as an organization about topics that are arising.  One new initiative is monthly voluntary staff meetings where management answers questions that have been sent in and/or arise out of discussion. Communication in larger organizations can be very challenging at the best of times, and this new initiative of our Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace Committee is one way to try to create time for real, in-depth conversations.

I am writing this blog after the first such meeting, where we talked about some of the changes ahead, including plans on our new building, anticipated changes to funding models, and budget management strategies, all very big subjects that are constantly moving.  I wanted to share some of the key pieces that arose for me during this conversation, that I hope they will help ground me in upcoming discussions:

  • Everyone works where we do for a reason and wants the best for the people we serve
  • It is a privilege to be able to do the work that we do
  • Every time we run short staffed, which unfortunately has had to be more this last year, it is the staff that make sure every day that our clients still get the care they need
  • We all have a role in supporting each other and a healthy workplace, and we all want that
  • Change is harder when we don’t understand it, and sometimes it’s not easy to explain but we need to try our best

As always, I am so grateful for all of these lessons, and the folks who make this work happen.  At the end of the day, the key resource of our health care system is the people who make it work every day, in places just like ours.