On June 16, 2015, over 70 Women’s Health Clinic volunteers, staff, Board Members and community partners joined together at the Norwood Hotel for our 34th Annual General Meeting and to celebrate our accomplishments over the last year. In opening the meeting, WHC Executive Director Joan Dawkins recognized our generous funders – WRHA, United Way, Province of Manitoba, and our donors – whose support makes the important work we do possible.
Looking back, WHC Board Chair Judith Huebner recounted WHC’s tremendous growth over the last five years. Most notably, our abortion program, the Provincial Eating Disorder Prevention & Recovery Program and the Birth Centre are now all well established. In 2014-15, the Board focused its attention on governance, policy development, and risk management to ensure WHC maintains its strong foundation. She observed that without the hard work of WHC’s extraordinary staff, volunteers, and Joan’s fearless leadership, none of these achievements would have been possible.
Looking forward, the next five years will see WHC implement a new strategic plan to remain a strong and vibrant feminist organization. We strive to be a more inclusive organization seen as a go-to resource by our regional, provincial, and community partners. We want to enhance and expand our services, both within new space as we relocate our clinic at 419 Graham site, as well as outside our current geographic boundaries. To meet these goals, we will expand our revenue base and continue our commitment to governance and strong leadership.
The event highlight was the keynote address from newly retired former WRHA CEO, Arlene Wilgosh. In keeping with talk show host David Letterman’s recent retirement, she offered her own Top 10 list:
Top 10 Observations on Community Health in Manitoba (excerpts)
Patient flow needs to be improved. Community health has an integral role to ensure the right client is at the right place at the right time.
The era of community health care has arrived. The acute care sector struggles on how to integrate services. Community Health Centres are experts in this and can help lead the way.
Community Health Centres need to be used by the healthcare system. Often, what we do is not well understood by others in healthcare or the public. Community Health Centres need to ask for regular meetings with decision makers, send letters, make noise and be in their face and under their noses. The key is to engage senior leaders in the conversation about what matters to your organization.
Embrace system change. Involve other organizations in discussions to increase employee engagement.
I want you to want me! Community health wants acute care to want them. Community health needs to be better at collaborating and figuring out what the hooks are to engage other sectors in the conversation. Invite the leaders in these programs to learn and become immersed in your programs. Push for common links and think like acute care. This means focusing on patient care, research and education.
Education. Advocate for being teaching sites within family medicine to influence physicians and nurses in training. They will learn about your philosophy and service delivery and be likely to refer their own patients to you in the future. Participate in interdisciplinary opportunities.
Research. Start academic research projects. Seek out joint research partnerships.
More. Be an organization to be reckoned with. Provide more services through more sites. Expand Community Health approach to rural and northern areas. In addition to increasing health care access to people, there is a tremendous economic benefit to creating a health centre in a community.
Social Media & Communications. Ensure people know what you do. Branding is critically important.
Be the Best You Can. Be credible. Have strong governance and leadership. Women’s Health Clinic provides tremendous services, is a strong advocate for women’s health issues, and is seen as a valuable partner. Your hard work is showing results. Continued strong leadership can turn a vision into reality.
Joan very nicely summed up Arlene’s excellent speech into three main action items for WHC:
1. Nag (be tenacious)
2. Brag (make sure the right people know about all the good stuff we do)
3. Get out of the box (be innovative and try new things)
That is exactly our plan for Women’s Health Clinic over the next five years. We encourage you to stay connected and engage with us – we’d love to have you join us on the exciting journey ahead!