London hospital defends brass restructuring, will not disclose prices to taxpayers

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Southwest Ontario’s largest hospital, which has added new presidents for its two London campuses, is defending an overhaul of its leadership ranks but won’t say what the restructuring will cost taxpayers.

Publication date:

September 22, 202235 minutes ago4 minutes read Victoria Hospital in London.

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Southwest Ontario’s largest hospital, which has added new presidents for its two London campuses, is defending an overhaul of its leadership ranks but won’t say what the restructuring will cost taxpayers.

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The London Health Sciences Center (LHSC) has grown from a leadership team of 20 to 19 people in a restructuring that’s been going on for more than a year, a top-down reorganization that is just beginning, says the hospital’s president.

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The hospital declined to immediately disclose the cost of the new team, which was the result of a series of external hires, internal transfers of existing executives, and layoffs and departures by former top executives.

The changes in LHSC’s top ranks come after more than two years of pandemic pressures on hospitals, amid worker absenteeism due to COVID-19 infections, staff burnout and a provincial wage freeze of frontline workers but not executives regards.

“The reorganization has been about looking at what we have learned from the pandemic, and the hope and opportunity of future healthcare system transformation, and ensuring we are organized to serve the needs of the communities we serve , can fulfill,” said President and CEO Jackie Schleifer Taylor on Thursday.

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LHSC has lost at least six executives since Schleifer Taylor took the reins as interim president and chief executive in January 2021 after former president and chief executive Paul Woods was abruptly quit following a pandemic travel scandal. Woods has filed a $3.5 million wrongful discharge lawsuit against the hospital.

Schleifer Taylor, the former president of Children’s Hospital, was appointed permanent president and chief executive officer of LHSC last November.

LHSC hired an outside recruiter to help with the restructuring, said Schleifer Taylor. Some of the hospital’s top executives left to pursue other opportunities, while others had to apply for roles in the new structure, she said.

“These were redesigned reels to fit our reorganization, the circumference and width of the reels is very different than before. Individuals who previously worked at LHSC were given the opportunity to apply for these positions with outside candidates,” said Schleifer Taylor.

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“It proved to us that we already have world-class leaders here at LHSC. . . . I never thought in my wildest dreams that the reorganization would create a whole new leadership team. We didn’t want to do that, because we already had this talent here.”

LHSC said the new team’s salary and benefits would be released in accordance with Ontario legislation requiring annual disclosure of officers who paid $100,000 or more.

Schleifer Taylor said the total compensation for the new executive is “comparable” to the old one.

The so-called Sunshine list of government workers making more than $100,000 will be released in March.

The list provides an incomplete picture of the total cost of executive compensation at LHSC as it does not include employees earning less than $100,000 or physicians who bill Ontario’s public health insurance system but may also hold managerial positions within the hospital.

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The hospital’s big moves over the past year — the termination of Woods and the departure or firing of four other senior executives — prompted LHSC to pay out $1.5 million in severance pay, salaries and benefits to the five, even though they were all in the first half of 2021.

Excluding that total, the 15 executives included in public sector payroll figures on the Sunshine List over the past year show that LHSC’s executive team cost the hospital approximately $3.37 million in salaries and benefits.

The hospital’s total budget is approximately $1.3 billion per year.

LHSC’s new organizational chart does away with the job titles of executive vice president and most vice presidents and has opted to simply refer to members of the leadership team as executives. The move is intended to signal that equal value is given to every voice on the team, said Schleifer Taylor.

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LHSC’s two campuses, University Hospital and Victoria Hospital, now have their own Presidents. The Children’s Hospital also has a President, a position that predates the management reorganization. All three will report to the company hospital’s administrative director, Brad Campbell, in a new position and outside hiring announced in June.

The new presidential roles at University and Victoria Hospitals will provide direct accountability for performance and patient care at each site, said Schleifer Taylor, a need that has come sharply into focus during the pandemic.

“When a patient walks into the UC ER, they are typically seen throughout the UC footprint,” she said. “The main goal of this reorganization is to bring all of our departments and services that support this person under one umbrella structure that follows this patient’s journey.”

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LHSC looked at other Ontario hospital networks, including the larger University Health Network in Toronto and the similarly sized Hamilton Health Sciences, to see how the organizations were structuring their top tiers, said Schleifer Taylor. Both hospital networks have 22 executives, she said.

The restructuring of LHSC is just beginning, said Schleifer Taylor.

“Such a restructuring takes time to really think through and implement carefully. It’s not something we rush into,” she said. “We have established the management level and are working our way down. The only goal is to ensure that the support and infrastructure is in place for the people who are at the clinical interface with our patients.”

[email protected]

Twitter.com/JenatLFPress

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