VMDAS and VPSA members gathered in person and online December 12 for the organizations’ joint annual general meetings. The meeting began with a special Indigenous welcome from Squamish Nation Elder Xwechtaal Dennis Joseph who offered a song, prayer, and drumming. From President Dr. Alison Harris through guest speakers VMAC Chair Dr. M. Raju Heran, VCH President and CEO Vivian Eliopoulos, and CMA President-Elect Dr. Kathleen Ross, the shared theme was appreciation for the work medical staff have provided to patients and clients throughout the pandemic.
“The Omicron wave provided more challenges this year, as did the ongoing human health resources shortages,” commented Dr. Harris. “We’ve also faced many patients who need care as we work to manage backlogs and waitlists. I would like to thank all of you for your continuing dedication and for the tremendous support you give one another.”
Dr. Heran reviewed the purpose of the Vancouver Medical Advisory Committee and went over its recent activities. One of the group’s key mandates is quality improvement and learning from safety events and critical incidents. VMAC also advocates for medical staff needs during capital allotment decision making. Addressing drivers of burnout and wellness is another priority, as is advocacy to address staff shortages. Inclusion, diversity, and equity issues are also on VMAC’s front burner, as are the ongoing challenges of CST.
Ms. Eliopoulos reflected on the challenges that living and working through a pandemic have wrought and offered her heartfelt thanks to medical staff for their leadership over the past 2.5 years. She also acknowledged that as we come out of the pandemic, we are feeling and experiencing the impact of delayed access to care. She noted that significant efforts are underway to addressing staff shortages. Mirroring work championed by VPSA, VCH has committed to four key areas: diversity, equity and inclusion and anti-racism; planetary health; Indigenous health; and wellness. Regional medical directors have been hired in three of these areas this year. Dr. Joy Masuhara is the DEI regional medical director; Dr. Andrea MacNeill is the planetary health regional medical director; and Dr. Ashok Krishnamoorthy is the recently appointed regional medical director for medical staff wellness. Leslie Bonshor leads the VCH Indigenous Health initiatives at VCH.
Dr. Ross became CMA’s president-elect in March 2022; she will assume its presidency in August 2023. She reviewed CMA’s goals including extensive reforms that she hopes will be led from the grassroots. She noted that waitlists have transformed into multi-year queues, ongoing staff challenges have affected our ability to deliver high-quality care, the pressure on primary care providers is becoming unsustainable, and Canadians have fewer places to turn for care. CMA is building the case for collaboration to address these issues and Dr. Ross insists that physicians must be at the forefront of reform. The way forward, she suggested, is a health-care system where patients are partners, everyone has the chance to be healthy, and physicians are supported as people and professionals. She envisions a health-care system with pan-Canadian licensure, scaled up virtual care, an expansion of team-based care, a national health human resource strategy, improved workforce data collection, and investments in medical training and education.
New board members elected
The business portion of the meeting ratified the VMDAS and VPSA financial statements and proposed budgets. It also confirmed the directors of the board. Dr. Harris enters her second term as president, with Dr. Ka Wai Cheung continuing her second term as vice-president. Dr. Adam Meneghetti is the new treasurer; Dr. Debra Miller takes over as secretary; and Dr. Fahreen Dossa is a member-at-large. Biographies of all the board members can be read here.
Photos from the evening can be viewed here.