I recently sat down with Chris Harris, our new CEO, to ask some get-to-know-you questions. Here is our conversation…
Christine: Chris, what has your career timeline been?
Chris: Although I am born and raised in Ontario (London), I actually started my healthcare career as a respiratory therapist after moving to Edmonton, AB in the mid-1980’s. Since then, I have embraced life-long learning and have taken multiple courses, programs, certificates, diplomas, along with a Master of Health Administration for better alignment with leadership positions.
Most recently, I was the director of patient safety, patient experience and relations at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), University and Victoria Hospital. My first career leadership role was as a respiratory therapy clinical leader followed by manager of perioperative care, manager of cardiac care, and director of the cardiac care program and CSTAR, all while at LHSC.
Christine: Who is your health care hero?
Chris: Honestly, when you ask me that question, my first thought is of the frontline workers who do the work everyday and don’t have the option to work from home. It’s EMTs, firefighters, and all the workers who have sacrificed a lot more than people recognize. I am very proud of our staff at GBCHC who came to work day after day and looked for opportunities to continue to support our patients and each other through this unprecedented time.
Christine: Tell me about your community service work.
Chris: Years before I got into health care, I volunteered for the Red Cross Society at the blood collection centre in Alberta. When I came back to Ontario, I involved was on the board of directors for Forward House, a social service agency in London. I have been an active member with the Parkhill Lions Club and Horticultural Society along with assisting with the Parkhill fair each year (sans COVID).
Christine: What are the top three priorities in your new role?
- Access to care – We have a waitlist of people need primary care that needs to be resolved along with new home construction happening through the area/region resulting in more people moving to the area needing medical support.
- Supporting people post pandemic. This has had an impact to everyone, and we need to support people returning to a new normal and coping with whatever changes present themselves
- Setting (the GBACHC) strategic goals with input from the community. Having a good, critical review of what the needs are both in Grand Bend and in Hensall immediately and in the future. Setting us up for success now and in the future.
Christine: The Grand Bend Area Community Health Centre is a member of the Huron Perth Area Ontario Health Team (HPA-OHT). How do you think the HPA-OHT will improve health care in the Grand Bend area?
Chris: I think the HPA-OHT will give us a louder voice when it comes to (health care) planning in this area. Our health care has been very fragmented with different models over the years. From regional health authorities to local health integration networks (LHINs). There are certain economies of scale we can achieve, but at the same time, we can create more of a cohesive health care network to support the needs of our community and across the HPA-OHT region. It’s about building up collaborative practices amongst all the OHT partners with the ultimate goal of improving patient care.
It will take time and perseverance. I think aligning our accreditation with the HPA-OHT will help us in the long run. I hope there will be less health care bureaucracy, more money, and skillsets to achieve better system navigation and patient care. It seems that whenever health care reform comes up, it takes five minutes to have the conversation and five years to implement it. It’s an historic time in health care.