Senior leadership teams begin charting a new path forward

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VPSA/VMDAS board and staff meet monthly with VCH senior leaders to develop a collaborative relationship between medical staff and the health authority. Those attending the March meeting heard updates on the work of the VA/VC Medical Staff Planetary Health Committee and the VA/VC Physician Wellness Steering Committee. The group also discussed ways to make the meetings more meaningful.

Planetary health update

Dr. Rashmi Chadha, co-chair of the Planetary Health Committee, gave an overview of its work to date. She noted that the committee has a full roster and met for the first time in December. The committee’s purpose is to educate, engage, and empower medical staff to become planetary health leaders in their professional lives.

The committee has identified five areas where it has begun making inroads: eat better; invest better; move better; practice better; and campaign better. During the group’s first months, its primary areas of focus have been food, supporting local sustainability, and transportation. Initiatives include encouraging people to take part in Veganuary and a close-to-completed list of nearby restaurants and caterers that offer plant-based meals. The feasibility of a farmers’ market at VGH is also being explored.

Other projects underway include encouraging physicians to use active transport or to take transit to work. Committee members are investigating transit subsidies and promoting cycling.

Later the committee plans to turn its attention to incorporating Choosing Wisely or other medicines and testing stewardship-based recommendations into clinical systems. A talk on plant-based eating with nutritional epidemiologist Dr. Karen Papier is in the planning stages.

Physician wellness update

Dr. Fahreen Dossa, co-chair of the Wellness Steering Committee joined the meeting to give an update on her group’s activities. The purpose of this joint VPSA/VCH committee is to work with physicians to assess their levels of burnout and wellness, identify the causes of burnout, where it exists, and develop solutions collaboratively to address these causes.

VPSA is currently supporting nine departments and divisions with funding for projects that are driven by wellness champions. These physicians were recently surveyed about their perceptions of the wellness work they are undertaking. Every respondent confirmed they want to continue their work with 70 per cent agreeing that the funding amount was adequate. Sixty per cent agreed that a fresh set of burnout and fulfillment data for their group would be helpful in continuing to inform their activities. Most of the champions had positive impressions of the difference their projects were making to reducing burnout and increasing fulfillment with 30 per cent reporting their efforts were making a small difference and 40 per cent believing these were making a medium difference.

VCH’s People Team has assisted significantly by offering committee members and wellness champions coaching, focus group facilitation, and advice regarding change management. The committee has also started collaborating with the new VCH Regional Medical Director of Wellness, Dr. Ashok Krishnamoorthy. Committee members co-authored an article about physician burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic that was published in the March issue of BCHJ.

The committee is working on its second physician wellness survey, a follow-up to the 2020 survey that revealed distressing levels of burnout, and is looking to partner with other communities of care to deploy this. It anticipates renewing the wellness funding program with room to support another two to three departments/divisions.

Improving the meeting format

Following up from the February meeting, attendees devoted time to discussing ways to improve these monthly sessions. On the positive side, the meetings have evolved as the groups’ priorities have become more aligned. However, they have also become primarily a place where committees report on their activities.

VCH Director of Strategy Deployment Lori Benning facilitated discussion about ways to re-envision the meeting format to allow for more engagement. Suggestions ranged from holding a strategic planning session devoted to this to leveraging the committee presentations in ways to find out how the leaders attending the meetings can assist the groups in moving forward.

These discussions will continue at upcoming meetings.

Next meeting

The group will meet again on April 14. If you have an item you wish to be brought forward at these meetings, please contact VPSA Operations Director Andrew Pinfold.

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