Search on as LHSC boss sets date to leave

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Southwestern Ontario’s largest hospital is seeking a new boss to take the reins at a time when Ontario hospitals face daunting challenges.

London Health Sciences Centre began the search after chief executive Murray Glendining decided he will step down when his term ends on March 31.

“(Glendining) has been instrumental in helping navigate (our hospital) through a period of uncertainty and change and will continue to move us forward over the coming year,” hospital board chairperson Ramona Robinson wrote in response to questions from The Free Press.

“His commitment to partnership and support for system change has positioned London Health Sciences Centre to succeed through the continued health system transformation ahead,”

The change comes as hospitals across Ontario struggle with budgets that have left many so clogged with patients that people in emergency rooms can face lengthy waits for an available room. While most developed countries try to keep hospital occupancy close to 85 per cent so they can manage surges in demand, many Ontario hospitals are routinely over 100 per cent capacity, including London Health Sciences. The lack of funding has also led to length delays for patients who need some surgeries.

LHSC recruited Glendining in 2012 to be second-in-command just as Ontario Liberals hit the brakes on hospital funding that had risen substantially for nearly a decade. By October 2013, he was serving as acting CEO, a position the board unanimously gave him permanently the following year without conducting a search.

This time, the hospital has hired Odgers Berndtson, a major firm, to conduct an international search for a replacement.

“An announcement will be made once a successful candidate has been chosen,” Robinson wrote in the email. “The board will also ensure a smooth (transition) process for the new president and CEO.”

Her predecessor as board chair, Tom Gergely, told The Free Press earlier this summer of the qualities the new CEO would need: “We’re looking for someone who has demonstrated the ability to lead, the ability to build collaborative partnerships across the health-care system, someone who has strong business acumen, someone who is relentless in the pursuit of excellence, quality in the ability to deliver results and someone who has compelling vision.”

The new head will oversee physicians, staff, students and scientists at London’s two major hospitals, University Hospital and Victoria Hospital, with a budget that tops $1 billion and employs more than 15,000 people, As the head of a teaching hospital, the new CEO will also manage relations with Western University and more than 30 other educational institutions.

The selected candidate will step into the highest-paid position in London’s public sector. Glendining last year earned $571,229 in salary and benefits.

Glendining launched a number of initiatives to manage the funding crunch while demand grew for services, going beyond difficult cuts in budgets to re-model emergency care in a search for efficiency inspired by production methods at auto giant Toyota.

A native of South Africa and a chartered accountant, Glendining came to LHSC after a decade at Hamilton Health Sciences Centre, where he helped implement a provincial strategy to create uniform electronic health records in that region. He previously worked as a chief financial officer in Western Canada and has served as consultant to the Ontario government.

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