December 8, 2023

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The South Bruce Grey Health Centre’s new president and chief executive officer is looking forward to leading the local hospital corporation into the future.

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Nancy Shaw has taken over the top job at SBGHC from Michael Barrett, who announced last November he would not be renewing his contract after more than four years. Monday was Shaw’s first full day in the position following an overlap week with Barrett last week.

“I am really pleased to be a part of this organization and I am excited about the future,” Shaw said in a phone interview on Monday. “South Bruce Grey Health Centre certainly has a committed and dedicated team of employees, physicians and volunteers, so I am certainly really pleased to be joining their team.”

Shaw joins SBGHC with over 30 years of health-care experience. She was previously with the Perth and Smith Falls District Hospital where she has served in various roles, including as president, CEO, vice-president of clinical services, chief human resource officer and chief nursing executive. The organization operates two hospital sites serving over 60,000 residents in the region of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville in eastern Ontario.

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“I enjoy working in a small community hospital. I am used to working in rural communities and certainly a multi-site facility,” Shaw said. “I enjoy the dynamic within a smaller hospital and certainly I look forward to the opportunity to getting to know the communities and the people we provide health-care services for.”

Shaw said she had visited the Grey-Bruce area in the past, found it beautiful and enjoyed her time while in the area.

“Certainly when the opportunity arose, I felt it would be a great fit not only for myself but for the organization, because it is a very similar community to what I was coming from,” said Shaw, who is relocating to the area. “The reputation of this organization and certainly being able to join it is something I wanted to strive for.”

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Shaw said she learned a lot about the organization, all the sites and its people during the transition period. She has been able to meet with the employees and volunteers of all four sites, as well as stakeholders and community partners the hospitals interact with.

“I have to say everyone has been extremely welcoming,” Shaw said. “I was so impressed by the welcome I received and certainly how everyone is working together as a team to deliver health-care services in their communities. I was really, really impressed.”

Shaw said smaller rural hospitals certainly have their challenges, particularly health human resource shortages.

She said those challenges are similar to what is being experienced in rural areas elsewhere in the province, and the country right now.

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SBGHC has had to temporarily reduce the hours at all four of its hospital sites in Chesley, Durham, Kincardine and Walkerton at times over the past year due to staffing issues. The most severely impacted has been Chesley, where the ED was closed for an eight-week period in the fall due to a critical shortage of nurses. The ED in Chesley is again operating five days a week from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., while SBGHC’s other three hospitals have 24-hour EDs.

“The health human resources shortage is one of the challenges for sure, but that is not unique to South Bruce Grey Health Centre,” Shaw said. “Rural does have different challenges than tertiary care centres, but that is not new.”

Shaw said she is excited to move forward with a vision for the future, but as she is just starting in her new role she is not yet able to say exactly what that vision is.

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“These are growing communities and I think it is going to be an exciting place to be,” she said.

There is concern in the Chesley community that the ED reductions and other service changes could be a precursor to the hospital closing. A community committee called Chesley Hospital Community Support held a “Save Our Hospital” rally in the town on Saturday.

Shaw declined to comment on the rally or the speculation, and said she didn’t want to single out any of the individual sites, their operations or ongoing projects at them.

“I certainly have commitment to all four sites to provide leadership and strategic visioning into the future,” she said.

In a news release from SBGHC on March 22 announcing Shaw’s appointment, it said she is bringing a wealth of health-care experience to her new role and has a demonstrated track record of delivering advancements in staff retention, patient satisfaction, strategic plan development and administration and overall clinical performance and effectiveness.

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“Nancy will bring valuable rural and multi-site hospital experience to SBGHC,” corporation board chair Bill Heikkila said in the release. “We are confident that her dedication and cooperative and collaborative leadership style will allow her to successfully lead the organization through any challenge that we may face.”

In addition to her Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Shaw has a Master of Health Studies degree and has served as an associated professor at a Bachelor of Nursing Program since 2005. She has earned a Labour Law Certificate from Osgoode Hall, and MBA Essentials and Advanced Health System Leadership certificates from Rotman School of Management.

The SBGHC board thanked Barrett for his “outstanding contributions” to the organization, particularly in the areas of COVID response, putting SBGHC back on a strong financial footing, addressing challenges associated with staffing shortages, helping lead the development of the Grey Bruce Ontario Health Team, securing a CT scanner and future MRI for the Kincardine hospital, and advancement of significant capital projects.


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