KELOWNA - The new head of the Interior Health Authority spent the first week on the job travelling and expects to to do a lot more before things settle down.
“I was out talking with staff, physicians, community leaders, volunteers. I’m just going around to communities and listening to what people are telling me. I want to get sense of where we are and which direction we are moving,” incoming CEO Chris Mazurkewich says.
At least its familar ground for the health care management veteran, who spent 17 years working in Central Okanagan, first for Kelowna General Hospital, then the former Okanagan Similkameen Health Region and finally, the Interior Health Authority, where he served as its first chief financial officer.
Mazurkewich left the health authority six years ago to work for Alberta Health Services as chief operating officer.
“I was responsible for any service that touched a patient," he says. "We had a $9-billion budget.”
He takes over from Dr. Rob Halpenny, who Mazurkewich says kept the health authority moving forward in good order during his tenure.
“I’ve seen some nice quality improvements, seen some service expansion, which has all been needed,” he says. "It’s great to see. My sense is we are heading in the right direction.”
Mazurkewich says no one is going to see big changes, particularly during the first few months, as he gets back up to speed and works on the the health authority’s strategic plan and 2016 budget.
“I’m not coming in here as a heroic saver. I’m coming in to listen to people, coming in to take health care in the direction they want to go, recognizing they have to do it within the constraints of the available resources — money and people.”
Mazurkewhich inherits a health authority with a $2-billion budget, responsible for providing health care to almost 750,000 residents.
Geographically, it is the second largest health authority in B.C., covering 215,000 square kilometres, containing two tertiary hospitals in Kelowna and Kamloops, plus 20 more regional and community hospitals.
Along with 1,400 hospital beds, the health authority provides 6,500 residential care and assisted living beds. It employees aproximately 20,000 staff, including 1,500 physicians.
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