Providence Health Care: Dianne Doyle, President & CEO

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For over twenty-two years, Providence Health Care President & CEO Dianne Doyle has played a dynamic role in the world of Canadian health care. Doyle’s value-centered leadership style is derived from decades of clinical nursing experience. Her insider’s perspective into the concerns and stresses of hands-on care has fostered a unique company culture at Providence Health Care. With a “no blame” attitude and an emphasis on addressing “near-misses” before they turn into errors, Doyle’s team of physicians, nurses, and staff have earned the coveted 3M Health Care Quality Team Award an unprecedented four years in a row. In this article, Doyle explains the implications of her company’s Catholic roots, and how its core values shape the health care network’s daily operations and long-term goals.

Providence Health Care is a network of 14 health care facilities located across the city of Vancouver, British Columbia: St. Paul’s Hospital, Mount Saint Joseph Hospital, Langara, Honoria Conway, Brock Fahrni Pavilion, Holy Family Hospital, Youville Residence, Marion Hospice; and six community dialysis clinics in greater Vancouver. With an annual operating budget of $600 million, Providence Health Care employs 6,000 employees and 1,200 physicians, with an additional volunteer base of 1,400 individuals. Providence Health Care maintains strong organizational ties to the five Catholic Founding Congregations of Sisters, who both serve on and advise the company’s board of directors.  Providence Health Care is an academic health Science Centre affiliated with UBC. An integrated approach to care, research and teaching focuses on six populations – cardio pulmonary, HIV, renal, mental health & addictions, urban health and seniors.

Dianne Doyle’s Leadership Track: From Clinician to CEO

“I actually have an interesting history because I started off at one of the sites – the St. Paul site – as a staff nurse in the intensive care unit,” says Dianne Doyle, who has served as Providence Health Care’s President and CEO for the past eighteen months.

“I worked my way through different clinical leadership positions — instructor, and then head nurse — and then moved to what was then a separate site, Mount Saint Joseph’s, where I was vice-president for a number of years,” she recounts.

“When [Mount Saint Joseph Hospital] merged with two other facilities, I continued on as vice-president. We then merged that group with St. Paul’s and Holy Family to form what is now the Providence Health Care group.”

After over two decades of diligent leadership in the Vancouver, B.C. health care arena, Doyle was appointed CEO of the newly-formed network of eight health care facilities.

A Successful Merger

In health care, as in any other realm of business, successful company mergers do not happen overnight.

“The organization is actually the result of a merger over two different phases,” explains Doyle. Several years ago, the Canadian government elected to eliminate existing hospital boards and collate various facilities into consolidated “regional health care authorities.”

“As that process was unfolding, our organization . . . wanted to have an opportunity in that health authority structure to maintain the values, the mission, and the faith-based organization of Catholic health care,” says Doyle. “To do that, they merged the organizations into what is now Providence Health Care.”

By retaining its six fundamental core values – Spirituality, Integrity, Stewardship, Trust, Excellence and Respect – Providence Health Care’s leaders ensured that its Catholic roots were not forgotten during the merger, and that its transition into a cohesive health care network was as smooth as possible.

A Culture of Service

When asked to describe Providence Health Care’s “company culture,” Doyle points once again to its core value system.

“We’ve been able to create and sustain a culture that’s really focused on values that our staff, at all levels of the organization – up, down, sideways – live out on an ongoing basis. . . . That culture has allowed us to really have a focus on innovation,” she explains. Yet while some companies struggle to retain core values while simultaneously charging forward into the exciting future of new technology and financial growth, Providence Health Care seems to be performing this tricky balancing act with relative ease.

“In the chaotic world of health care, there’s always change coming at you from multiple directions,” says Doyle. “But we intentionally created certain roles and structures . . . to bring new designs of care, with good outcomes for patients and for staff.” And Providence Health Care’s remarkable company culture has not gone unnoticed in the health care community.

“We now have a reputation within our province and across the country, “ notes Doyle with justified pride, adding that Providence Health Care is the first hospital in Canada to win the prestigious 3M Health Care Quality Team Award four consecutive years in a row.

“No other organization has done that, so I think it’s an indication of our innovation,” concludes Doyle.

Addressing Near-Misses, Preventing Future Error

Even the most stable, successful businesses encounter employee errors from time to time. The difference in the health care business is that errors can be fatal. However, rather than punish staff members who make a mistake, Doyle’s objective as leader of Providence Health Care is to treat the systemic causes of error in the workplace, and to reward those who identify potential problems.

“Often errors that happen in health care – and there are a lot of them – happen not because individuals are incompetent or willfully bringing harm, but because the context and systems in which we place people allow error to occur,” explains Doyle, who works hard to foster a “no-blame” atmosphere of trust and honesty at Providence Health Care.

“We let our staff know in concrete ways that there’s no blame, and that we want them to be surfacing errors and near-misses,” says Doyle. “We actually give awards to our staff when they bring a near-miss to our attention.”

In their effort to prevent errors from occurring, Providence Health Care’s staff also performs regular “Safety Huddles”: quick ten-minute hallways meetings to discuss hot-topic issues and come up with immediate resolutions. Combined with regular classroom-based safety training, these Safety Huddles provide invaluable opportunities for ongoing, staff-centered education amidst the frenetic pace of 24-hour care.

A Legacy of Social Justice

When contemplating Providence Health Care’s future, Doyle immediately turns to the distant past and reflects upon the organization’s rich tradition of social service.

“This year is the 400th anniversary of the celebration of organized health care in Canada,” she remarks. “So it’s over 400 years ago that religious women came to this country expressly to provide care to the needy. This whole principle of social justice is what grounds our organization, and I think grounds me in my leadership style.”

The company’s Legacy Project — a plan to redevelop its existing acute and long-term care sites to provide enhanced services for the elderly — is a tangible reflection of its dedication to the surrounding community.

“A desire to serve others, especially the most needy, the most marginalized, the most vulnerable and the most voiceless in our community really motivates me as a leader,” confirms Doyle, quickly adding that, “no leader accomplishes anything on their own.”

With an award-winning team of physicians and staff at her command, there is no doubt that Dianne Doyle will accomplish a great deal.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jennie M. Alcon January 2, 2012 at 8:07 am

Dear Ma’am,
Happy New Year! I have received an email thru saying i was selected as staff nurse for Vancouver General Hospital in Canada, and asking P3,500 for Canadian Embassy Interview Coaching that will be conducted at :
VCH Travel & Tours
6737 Ayala Avenue
Makati Central Business District
Makati City 1226
Metro Manila, PH

I was excited to this message and willing to participate but i would like to confirm first if this message is true, i appreciate your immediate response, thanks!

Jennie M. Alcon


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