Workplace Cultural Journey underway at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital

Nanaimo – A workplace culture assessment recently completed at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital (NRGH) will guide work over the coming months aimed at improving the staff, medical staff, patient and family experience at the acute care site.

The results of the culture assessment, conducted by independent consultant Vector Group Inc., were shared with NRGH leaders, physicians and clinical and support staff on Wednesday, Nov. 8.

“We deeply value our staff and our physician partners and the work that they do every day and I want to personally thank everyone who took the time to participate in this voluntary assessment,” said Damian Lange, Director of Clinical Operations at NRGH. “We know that we have challenges that must be addressed and we are dedicated to addressing them as quickly as possible. We are committed to this collaborative process aimed at enhancing our hospital’s reputation as a desirable place for staff and physicians to work and grow.”

Among the assessment’s findings are that there is a sense among staff and physicians that they are not consulted about key issues, and that leaders at all levels are too focussed on their own supervisors’ needs, therefore paying less attention to their staff and peer relationships. Staff and physicians indicated that they are afraid to speak out about their concerns. The assessment also showed that the areas with higher satisfaction levels and function are the departments of biomed, medical imaging and community care.

“The assessment results, though hard to hear, will guide the entire hospital team as we move forward together to support positive change and improve the workplace culture at our hospital,” said Dr. Malcolm Ogborn, Acting Chief of Staff. “We have received and are committed to addressing the recommendations and we are committed to ensuring all physicians and staff feel included, respected and capable of successfully integrating the recommendations with our workflow and quality improvement.”

The consultant’s recommendations, among others, include an immediate and aggressive management and leadership functional program coupled with a customized 360° feedback system (meaning feedback is provided by one’s subordinates, peers and supervisors, as well as through self-evaluation). It also recommends sharing the findings of the assessment with staff and physicians in a timely manner, acknowledging that the current situation is not acceptable and working to fix staff scheduling issues quickly. (See backgrounder below).

“We are very encouraged that Island Health has had the courage to acknowledge the findings of the report, with a promise of transparency and the commitment to addressing the issues raised,” said Dr. Dave Forrest, president of the Nanaimo Medical Staff Association. “This is an opportunity to begin to rebuild trust between the Health Authority, physicians, and other front-line health providers. This will require fundamental change and we share the responsibility with Island Health to find solutions collaboratively. We are hopeful this process can lead to a true partnership between staff and Island Health for the betterment of patient care.”

“We know that the nurses at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital want to provide safe care in a healthy workplace. The BC Nurses’ Union’s number one priority is safe patient care and we know that nurses want to do their job in an environment that respects them as professionals,” said BCNU acting president Christine Sorensen. “While this report is concerning on many fronts, we hope this is the beginning of real change that acknowledges the critically important role of nurses in the provision of quality care. We look forward to working with Island Health to ensure the workplace culture at Island Health is immediately addressed. 

“HSA welcomes the frank report on the state of workplace culture,” said HSA president Val Avery. “It reveals a hostile workplace where the health care professionals providing the diagnostic, clinical and rehabilitation services patients rely on for the very best care feel undervalued and disrespected, which increases the stress on an already under-resourced health care team struggling with critical shortages in many professions, as well as demanding workloads. We are encouraged by the recommendation that a multi-disciplinary team approach must be an essential component of an improved workplace culture, and are committed to work with Island Health to achieve that.”

In the coming weeks, site leadership in conjunction with the Workplace Culture Committee and Steering Committee will be putting together a strategy for moving forward. Of utmost importance is that clinicians, physicians, support staff and professionals from all program areas will be included in taking next steps together. 

“Island Health leadership fully supports the NRGH team as they work together at the local level to improve the culture at their workplace. Should there be learnings from the NRGH experience that we can implement more broadly across our organization, we will do so,” said Elin Bjarnason, Acting Executive Vice President, Quality, Safety and Experience. “Creating a great place to work and learn is a top priority for Island Health. We know that there is a connection between culture and quality of care, and we are committed to the NRGH team as they work collaboratively to improve workplace relationships to advance quality.” 

Media inquiries

Adrienne Breen
Media Relations