An interview with Georgina MacDonald

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Georgina MacDonald

Vice President, Western Canada and Developmental Initiatives

Q. You’ve just started your position here at CIHI (October 6). What are your first impressions and early priorities for the next few months?

I have always had a lot of respect for CIHI. Throughout my career, I have used analyses coming out of this organization as a “source of truth.” My first impression is that CIHI is a great organization where people strive to do their best. My initial priority is to meet with as many staff and stakeholders as possible to better understand the challenges and opportunities for the future.

Q. In the memo from our CEO announcing your arrival, you’re described as having “a passionate belief in a values-based corporate culture.” Is this part of what attracted you to CIHI? Were there other factors that attracted you, and if so, what were they?

As a senior leader in health care, I have always been intrigued by what sets some organizations apart from others. What I have learned is that leading organizations are visionary and have purpose, truly live by their values, are focused and are willing to “learn” their way into the future. I was attracted both to the culture of CIHI and how the organization truly values the people that work here, and to the analytical work, as I see the evidence that CIHI can provide as critical for the health industry.

Q. You believe in using data to support evidence-based decisions and to plan for the future. Can you tell us about a time in your past when this has been evident? Or tell us about an accomplishment you’ve been really proud of (personal or professional).

Throughout my career, which included various roles in the Saskatchewan and British Columbia ministries as well as Vancouver Island Health Authority, there has been a common thread of using data to inform decision-making and the future direction of health care. From a professional perspective, I am most proud of the work I’ve done with communities to understand the health status of the community and the factors that influence it. On a personal note, I love being a wife and a mother and am proud of my family and the life we have created.

Q. Tell us about yourself. What do you like to do in your spare time?

I grew up on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia and have gradually made my way west, moving to Victoria in 1998. I have been happily married to my husband Keith for almost 25 years. We have 3 teenage boys who keep us busy, with lots of time as a family and many hours at rugby fields and basketball courts. I enjoy the outdoors and spend much of my time walking, biking, hiking and gardening. I’m an early riser and the first hour of my day is spent with my golden retriever walking along the ocean.

Q. What do you think are some of the significant challenges facing Canada’s health care system now and over the next decade?

There is little doubt that health care is going to look very different in the future than it did in the past. Significant challenges facing the Canadian health care system in the next decade include the aging population, extreme disparities in health status, the shrinking workforce, evolving technology and a challenging economic context as health care continues to consume a greater share of provincial budgets. I believe the magnitude of these challenges will create opportunities to rethink how we provide care—placing the patient and the family at the centre of decision-making.

Q. Do you consider yourself to be visionary? If so, how do you hope to put that characteristic to work here at CIHI?

Yes, I really enjoy seeing the health system from the 100,000-foot level and thinking about what the future might look like. CIHI is well positioned as a national and international leader of the future. I look forward to exploring the opportunities for the next decade.

Q. What role do you see—or would you like to see—CIHI playing over the next decade to support health across the country?

I see CIHI as a national and international leader in health data analyses with products that are strategic, innovative and actionable by those who can effect change in the health system.

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