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EDITORIAL: A daunting task ahead

Published on August 16, 2017

MICHAEL MAYNE IS CEO OF HEALTH P.E.I.

©File Photo

Some 16 months into his term as chief executive officer for Health P.E.I., Michael Mayne is saying goodbye.  

His predecessor held the job for about four years. It appears that longevity isn’t a common trait for the CEO’s position.
Mr. Mayne cited family, personal and professional reasons for his decision. His departure appears entirely voluntary. The province seems to genuinely regret the loss with Premier Wade MacLauchlan effusive in his praise while wondering how to replace such an effective senior public servant.
Mr. Mayne’s decision suggests there is a symptom surrounding the CEO’s position – that it is one of the most demanding jobs on Prince Edward Island. He decided there is a life outside of Health P.E.I., its long hours, demanding workload and being the lightning rod for constant criticism.
Few topics concern Islanders and their government more than health care. It’s the central debate in any election, and after the weather, it’s likely the most debated and discussed topics across the province.
Mr. Mayne served as deputy minister of health from 2011-16 so he was well aware of what was ahead when he replaced Dr. Richard Wedge in 2012.
No one begrudges his wish to spend more time with a young and busy family, and to strike a better work-life balance. Duty to family must come before duty to province.
When he says public service is a fulfilling experience, he really means it's a time-consuming one. And there is no doubt he worked hard to improve the lives and health of Islanders.
Better supports for patients and front-line staff, improved access to programs and services, a Generic Drug Program, enhanced addictions programming and better access to primary care are cited as his major accomplishments. Island EMS provides an extremely efficient and successful emergency and non-urgent ambulance service for P.E.I.
The province has until October to find a replacement. It won’t be an easy task.
Although Mr. Mayne expressed confidence that the province’s health-care system stands on a strong footing because of the dedication of Island physicians, nurses and front-line staff, there are major problems and challenges ahead.
Can the search committee find a person who can:
Solve the perennial problem of finding a family doctor for every Islander?
Reduce the long waits in P.E.I.’s emergency rooms and clinics?
Offer the various special services that Islanders demand in their home province?
Enable Islanders, especially those in rural areas, timely access to health care?
Solve the critical issue of mental care and supports?
Oversee a quick replacement of the antiquated Hillsborough Hospital?
Satisfactorily answer lingering questions on bringing back elected regional health boards?
Assure rural Islanders their health care isn't being threatened by concentrating services and personnel in Charlottetown and Summerside?
Improve services and provide better health outcomes for Islanders?
And defend lingering criticism that Health P.E.I. is heavy on bureaucracy and light on front-line health professionals?
These are all immediate challenges that a new CEO will face on his or her watch. It’s a daunting task.