Janice Kaffer: A Vision for Community Health that Goes Beyond Hospital Leadership

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Early in her leadership journey, Janice Kaffer, Former CEO of Hôtel-Dieu in Windsor, realized that you need people around you who think differently than you and have different skillsets. Building that kind of team resulted in better decisions, including those that weren’t always easy for Janice to make.

Show Summary:

Today we’re talking with Janice Kaffer, who up until early January was President and CEO of Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare in Windsor Ontario. She’s calling this time semi-retirement as she continues to work on a project that will keep her connected with the hospital for at least six months.

Janice honestly admitted on social media last year that being a leader in a time of extended crisis takes a toll. When she did finally take some time off, she recovered her sense of self in a surprising and delightful way – by doing Lego. It grounded her in a way she could never have imagined.

Janice says it took some time to understand she was more than a hospital leader – that she was a community leader as well. Her own modest upbringing convinced Janice that she had an obligation to talk about issues around poverty, politics and the social determinants of health because it all has an impact on health.

Today she’s proud of the part she played and continues to play in changing the perception in Windsor of what a hospital is and what it can be.

Quotables

“Through the last two years of the pandemic, Bill (Marra) has been at my side, we’ve been working together, we went into the nursing home together, we’ve led most of the response together.” - JK

“Because the crisis has been going on for so long – it’s not constant, it’s ebbing and waning periods of intense activity – so you never really get a chance to step away from that time, to take care of yourself unless you make that time.” – JK

“My grandkids love Lego, but they’re brutal. I find little bits all over the house!” – JK

“The team we built at Hôtel-Dieu Grace is incredibly diverse and very involved in the decision-making at all levels. I always benefitted from the fact that many members of the team felt comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas.” – JK

“Over the years I developed a perspective that the job of the CEO for a community hospital it isn’t just about leading your own team, it’s also talking about those things in your community that affect health in the broader sector.” – JK

“Hôtel-Dieu Grace is more than a service delivery organization. We’ve tried to be an organization that connects to the community and speaks to a longer-term contract to change health for the better.” – JK

“Social media allows me to interact with people in a way that is super comfortable for me.” – JK

“One of the things that was important to me when I became CEO at Hôtel-Dieu was to create an opportunity for patients and families to have voice, but also for staff so that there’s balance.” – JK

“Unless we start taking seriously that the healthcare system is too lean, is too efficient, is needing investment, retaining staff is going to difficult.” - JK

“A lot of women hesitate to ask. Leaders have an obligation to make sure that everybody understands that we’re open to mentoring and coaching, and we’re here to share and assist.” - JK

Mentioned in this Episode:

Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare

Bill Marra

ProsperUs

Capital Health

Chris Power

Peter Senge

The Hospice of Windsor & Essex County Inc.

Mary Ferguson-Paré

RNAO

Access More Interviews with Healthcare Leaders at HIROC.com/podcast

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Email us at Communications@HIROC.com.

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