November 10, 2017 12:36 am
Updated: November 10, 2017 1:18 am

‘Toxic’ culture leading Nanaimo hospital to ‘self-destruction’: report

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital was the subject of a scathing report.


A toxic culture and a failure to manage people are among a long list of reasons why Nanaimo Regional General Hospital (NRGH) is on a path to “self-destruction,” according to a scathing report.

The culture assessment comes after years of problems driven in part by the implementation of the iHealth electronic records system that put more strain on physicians and other staff, the hospital’s director of clinical operations Damian Lange said in an interview with Global News.

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“Fundamentally this is many years in the making and realistically, it’s going to take us many years to get out of this… this is a systemic, organizational issue that we need to address,” Lange said.

Island Health hired U.S.-based consulting company Vector Group to conduct the report, which included surveying 473 hospital staff and executives.

It says the hospital is too focused on budget, it maintains a “top-down, heavy-handed, command and control hierarchy that ignores the willingness of people to provide the best patient care” and it’s allowing a culture, described as “disrespecting and devaluing everyone,” to exist.

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“It’s unusual for local leadership to present on an external company’s findings especially a report that’s so damning… as tough as that is to walk through as a local leader it’s the right thing to do,” Lange said.

“If we can live through transparency and vulnerability and actually acknowledge that we have a problem and we all want a piece of this and we can do this together, that’s going to help us move forward.”

Many of the report’s respondents said they voluntarily instructed their friends or family members to take them elsewhere if they get sick.

The report also outlines that “suspicion, fear and often loathing predominate organizational members’ thinking about administration.”

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In a section about how well NRGH is doing, it says people are discouraged from asking questions because of fear, bullying, intimidation, retaliation and censure.

“[The report] means we need to focus on our people… there’s many demands and high pressure demands in the health care system and one of the things that often gets left behind with budgetary restraints or capacity concerns … is the people,” Lange said.

Some of the first steps in dealing with the slew of issues at the hospital will be to validate the concerns being brought forward and to mend broken relationships, according to Lange.

“We had heard for a number of years that culture on site and within the organization was a challenge and to actually face this head on has been difficult,” Lange said.

Although the numbers are lower than even an “average poorly performing organization” the report says NRGH does have “a number” of people who love their jobs, immediate team, and who want to be involved in making the hospital a better place.

The full report can be read here.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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