Allan Katz started his new job as CEO of Riverside Health Care Facilities, Inc. here Monday, replacing Wayne Woods, who had held the position since 1999.
Katz spent Monday and Tuesday meeting staff, as well as touring La Verendrye Hospital, Rainycrest Long-term Care, and the health centres in Emo and Rainy River.
“This is great. What a wonderful community,” Katz enthused yesterday afternoon.
“Exceptional people, exceptional facilities,” he lauded. “This is just a great place.”
Katz said he already can tell Riverside has “a strong foundation within the organization—the right components, the right people, the right equipment.”
“There’s always going to be the need for new things and doing things differently,” he remarked. “But it’s trying to make sure that we’re providing the best possible care for the people of Rainy River District that we can.”
Katz said the main goal is to continue to work towards integration in health care “from one end to the other.”
“So there is an absolute need for the community to have access to exceptional primary care,” he stressed.
“It has to be timely. They have to be involved in their care, as well, and take responsibility over some of the decision-making that goes into contributing to appropriate health care.
“And we just have to be applying the right technologies, the right knowledge, to make sure that we’re providing people with the right information for them to make the right decisions to maintain their health,” Katz added.
“At the high level, we’ve all seen the budgets,” he noted.
“We’re all waiting to see what exactly that’s going to mean as it filters through the various levels of the government, both from the province to the region and from the region to the district, and from the district to the individual hospitals and health-care facilities.”
Katz said he looks forward to working with partners within Northwestern Ontario, such as the Community Care Access Centre and the Northwest LHIN.
“This organization has done a tremendous amount of work already along the lines of the integration of care within this community,” he remarked.
“Can we improve? We can always improve what we’re doing, and I think we have a really exceptional base of physicians, nursing staff, therapy staff, and support staff to move those yardsticks along.
“So it’s working with the LHIN to identify what their priorities are, what kind of change management solutions we can apply, and . . . looking at success elsewhere and applying other people’s experience with success here, and sharing our own successes, as well,” he explained.
Katz recently served as senior project director of the Southeast Community Care Access Centre in Kingston, Ont.
Prior to this, he was managing director of the Health Care Network of Southeastern Ontario (HCNSEO) for more than six years.
Katz is married to Margie and together they have two children—Ethan, currently an undergraduate student at Queen’s University, and Madeline, a Grade 10 student in Kingston.
His family will remain in the Kingston area until his daughter graduates.
Woods, meanwhile, said last week he’s enjoyed his tenure at Riverside, which has included a new hospital in Rainy River, a rebuilt one in Emo, Phase IV renovations at La Verendrye Hospital here in Fort Frances, and several additions of major equipment, like the CT scanner.
“A lot of progress has been made,” he noted. “I am quite proud of the accomplishments.
“Naturally, I didn’t do it alone, there was a lot of help,” he chuckled. “But my own personal feeling is I am leaving it in really good shape.
“With everything that’s going on with the government, I don’t know what the future is going to hold,” Woods admitted. “But I am certainly satisfied it’s been a good run.”
Woods, whose last day as CEO was Friday, said he’s looking forward to taking it easy at his Alberton residence, as well as spending more time with his wife, Karen, who retired as a teacher last year.
“Other than golfing, working on my cars, and working on the list at home, we’re sticking around,” he added.
“This has become our home and certainly we’re going to stay here for the foreseeable future.”