News + Announcements

Letter to OSMH Corporate Members, and the Community

(Orillia, ON) – At the January 30, 2024 meeting of the Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital (OSMH) Board, a recommendation to move our hospital corporation toward adoption of the ‘best practice’ governance model, more commonly referred to as a skills-based membership, was endorsed by the Directors.   In order to complete the transition, the proposal will now be brought forward to the corporate membership for a Special Meeting to vote on the proposed changes to the by-laws.

In the spirit of full transparency, I would like to share more insight behind this recommendation as well as next steps in the process.

The OSMH Board is excited about the future of our community hospital.   With recent announcements of funding, recognition as provincial leaders in integration and progress towards a new hospital, the Board has a responsibility to ensure our governance practices meet current standard.   We have conducted a comprehensive review of best practices, consulting experts in the field and researching trends across hospitals in Ontario.  This best practice philosophy is what progressive organizations continuously strive for and it is what our community has come to expect as we are constantly evolving to enhance the care being provided.

Moving towards a skills-based membership of the corporation brings us to best practice.   There are risks associated with the current paid membership model that have been identified by the Auditor General, other hospitals and in fact in our own history at OSMH.

We are committed to a healthcare system where someone should not have to pay to have a voice in how healthcare is delivered.  That is why our community consultation regarding this change has been extensive, ranging from community groups to probus clubs, our clinicians along with the patients and families they serve, and to the public at large.  We have listened and are pleased to share what we have learned.

There is overwhelming support from our community, clinicians, patients and families to move towards the best practices in governance with a skills-based corporate membership model.   This is seen as an important step to enable the best outcomes as we continue to grow and play a leadership role in healthcare transformation.

We have also heard a very strong desire from community members, and in particular the existing lifetime members of the corporation, for ongoing opportunities for engagement.   That is why the OSMH Board has decided to create the Friends of Soldiers’, an opportunity to enhance engagement.

Immediately upon formation, three members of the Friends of Soldiers’ will be invited to sit on the OSMH Community Engagement Committee (CEC), a longstanding forum focused on exchanging information and gathering community feedback on a wide range of hospital topics.

CEC participants have a direct link to the OSMH Board and Senior Team four times each year. In addition to the CEC, our Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC), and frequent community contacts, we believe the Friends of Soldiers’ creates an additional layer of engaging the people we serve.

The OSMH Board takes its accountability to the Ministry of Health very seriously and we welcome the opportunity to engage in open and transparent dialogue at the Community Engagement Committee.   We also see the Friends of Soldiers’ as the appropriate link to our OSMH Foundation to inspire our community to give back based on the excellent, compassionate care they receive.

With clear direction to move towards best practices and the consultation with recommendations complete, the OSMH Board has agreed to move forwards with next steps.

We will be convening a special meeting of the OSMH Corporation on Wednesday, March 6, 2024 at 5:30 pm at the St. Paul’s Centre in Orillia, where all recommended bylaw changes will be reviewed and decided.   Invitations and details are being shared with members of the corporation in advance.

Ligaya Byrch
OSMH Board Chair

 Supporting Quotes

“Nobody should have to pay to have their say in how a hospital is run.  Physicians believe strongly in that principle and we are proud of the numerous mechanisms in place to ensure that the patient and community voice is not only heard, but acted upon.  The OSMH Medical Advisory Committee (MAC) stands firmly in support of the hospital Board’s recommendation to transition our governance model to a skills-based membership, and strongly urge seeking a resolution in an expeditious manner to avoid unnecessarily eroding community confidence.”

Dr. Lindsay Alston
OSMH Chief of Staff

“As physicians, we value evidence-based, best practice and strive to incorporate this into our care. We aim to reduce sources of bias that could affect delivery of high-quality healthcare. We recognize that moving to a skills-based board has been recommended by the Auditor General as current best practice.

This item was discussed at the OSMH Credentialed Staff Association (CSA) meeting confirming support of this hospital corporate bylaw change.”

Dr. Melanie Colpitts
President, OSMH Credentialed Staff Association

Dr. Gabrielle Salmers
Vice President, OSMH Credentialed Staff Association

“Just as there are no boundaries to who receives care in our Emergency Department, a community is best served when there are no boundaries to those wishing to engage with its hospital or other medical service providers.  As OSMH Chief of Emergency Medicine, I support the move away from the paid membership governance model in favour of a skills-based membership model in keeping with current best practice.”

Dr. Don Sangster
OSMH Chief, Emergency Medicine 

“One of the many strengths of Orillia’s health care community is its ability to develop and grow effective partnerships to provide better care.   This commitment to collaborative working relationships is at the core of everything OSMH does and will only flourish under the move to a skills-based governance model.  This move to a higher quality governance model fits well with the objectives of the COHT as we all work to improve collaboration to meet population health needs.”

Dr. Kim McIntosh
Couchiching OHT Physician Lead
OSMH Program Medical Director – Integrated Care

“The OSMH Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) is proud to offer its unanimous support to OSMH as it adopts best practice in hospital governance.   Our PFAC convened a special meeting in December 2023 to learn more about the proposal, ask questions of the Board Chair, and pass a motion in support of this initiative.”

Barb Shakell-Barkey
Chair – OSMH Patient and Family Advisory Council