Long-time Heidelberg resident Janice Deganis was recently elected as the new chair of the Grand River Hospital (GRH) board of directors. The position, which is entirely voluntary, puts Deganis right at the helm of the hospital’s governance.
“I think it’s a very exciting time for the hospital right now,” says Deganis about stepping up to the leadership role. The health care sector is undergoing a considerable amount of change, she adds, noting she is excited to be involved in them.
The hospital board is made up of a group of community members who volunteer their time and lend their expertise to oversee the hospital’s activities. Deganis, who has been serving on the board for the past five years, is a chartered account by trade, applying her abilities to help the hospitals run smoothly.
“I do have a day job, yes,” says Deganis, who is currently a partner with Ernst & Young in Waterloo Region, working as the company’s national insurance leader. “So I have a good day job but I mean I think I have raised my children, raised my family, worked in this community for a long period of time.”
Despite already having a full plate, Deganis said that she wanted to give something back to the community when she joined with the hospital.
“The things the hospital has been able to bring to me made it something that was, I felt, important,” she explains.
Deganis will be serving as chair for the next two years, and in that time there is much to be done, she says. The Grand River Hospital is in the process of implementing an overhaul to how patient medical records are being shared between healthcare providers. The goal, explains Deganis, is to have one patient record that can go from the hospital to a patient’s doctor, or to another hospital in the region – all seamlessly.
“That will be a major initiative over the next few years for us to be putting that in. We are working with other hospitals in the region … to have this as a system that can expand to other hospitals in the region.”
They are also looking at bringing more services into the Grand River Hospital, so that people do not have to travel out of the area for certain treatments.
“One of the other key areas that we’re looking at is a neurosciences program for the region, and to be able to determine whether or not we can bring that to here … as opposed to having to travel outside of the community.”
And then there’s of course a tremendous amount more to be done. In a field as complex as health care, at a hospital with 3,390 staff members, 600 physicians, midwives and dentists; and 1,000 volunteers at the Kitchener-Waterloo and Freeport campuses as well as satellite locations in Waterloo Region and Guelph-Wellington, and with some 243,000 ambulance visits a year, there’s always more to be done.
“It’s a balancing job, but I have a lot of great support at the hospital … to be able to help balance those priorities,” says Deganis.
She credits her fellow board members, partners both in and out the hospital, and the hospital staff themselves for helping “get all of these great projects across the line.”
Along with her appointment as chair, the GRH board announced two new members, Josephine McMurray and Stephen Spraklin.
McMurray currently holds academic appointments at the University of Waterloo, and Western University, and is an assistant professor at the Lazaridis School, Wilfrid Laurier University.
Spraklin is a senior legal professional, currently vice-president – legal at Sandvine Incorporated ULC in Waterloo.