Posted: February 10, 2017
Diane Freeman 2

Grand River Hospital depends on many partners to advance exceptional care in Waterloo Region.

We are fortunate to have representatives from the Region of Waterloo as well as the cities of Kitchener and Waterloo on our board of directors. They provide an important link to local governments in the region, and offer a unique viewpoint.

Councillor Diane Freeman is the City of Waterloo’s representative on GRH’s board. Councillor Freeman lives in and represents Waterloo’s Ward 4. She is a licensed professional engineer and a project manager with the local firm of Masri O Architects Inc.

Councillor Freeman enjoys offering her viewpoint and analysis to the board of directors informed by her municipal government experience. She’s also inspired by her fellow board members and their dedication.

In Waterloo Region, how do local governments interact with hospitals?

There are three ex-official voting positions on GRH’s board. They’re open to members representing the Region of Waterloo as well as the cities of Kitchener and Waterloo. Where the City of Waterloo is concerned, I serve as the designate to the board for Mayor Jaworsky.

This interaction is a very positive one and facilitates conversations at the board related to community intersections with the hospital.  Examples of these conversations include:

  • The installation of the new ION stop outside of the hospital;
  • Community observations, for example, related to emergency services or cancer care; and
  • Population health and the interaction of all of the service providers within the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network.
What’s the importance of a hospital to a community such as Waterloo?

GRH is a critical service provider and a huge partner in growing Waterloo Region’s economy. When municipalities seek to become a destination of choice for people to live, work and play, access to high quality health care becomes a key component of any attraction and retention strategy. 

Why did you choose to serve on the board? When did you join the board?

I was approached by former Mayor Halloran to serve in her stead on the Board. She indicated to me that a sitting Board member had approached her and suggested that she encourage me to participate. I agreed to serve and joined the Board in 2010. 

I choose to serve on the board to make a difference in our community. I have always recognized the important role that GRH plays in Waterloo Region and I wanted to be a part of the decision making as it relates to the long-term strategic direction for the hospital.

What perspective do you offer that you feel is unique?

My educational background is engineering and I am a very analytical thinker. I seem to have an ability to see how one decision may have unintended consequences or may relate to a completely different outcome than the one under consideration. I have been told that I ask very different types of questions, that brings value to the decision making process. I hope this is the case as it is my goal to work in support of the common goals of the board and staff at GRH.

What do you see as the hospital’s greatest success in recent years?

I think there are a number that come to mind. These include:

  • Receiving full accreditation with commendation from Accreditation Canada;
  • GRH’s outstanding ranking related to being one of the safest hospitals in Canada;
  • Changes to the emergency department to address patient feedback;
  • Securing a Baby Friendly Hospital designation; and
  • Being one of the best stroke care programs in Canada.
What is the hospital’s biggest challenge going forward?

I see three major challenges going forward. The first challenge is the complexity of healthcare and in particular the complexity associated with the Ontario healthcare system. The sweeping changes introduced by the provincial government in 2016 leave many questions around the future of healthcare.

The second challenge more specific to GRH is the implementation of a new clinical information system for the hospital. This critical information technology platform will be a challenge in the near-term from the perspective of both implementation and funding. 

The third challenge is related to funding and the provincial funding model. This challenge is tied directly to the complexity of the Ontario healthcare system. 

Why do you enjoy being on the hospital board?

I am inspired by the other board members and their unselfish commitment to strategically plan and support the continued provision of high quality healthcare at GRH.  I value the opportunity to learn from other board members and participate in the very high functioning, well governed board that exists at GRH.

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