EDMONTON – Alberta Health Services president and CEO Vickie Kaminski (pictured) is leaving her position effective Jan. 1. Kasminski said in a news release her decision to resign was a personal decision. Her departure comes shortly after a new AHS board was appointed.
Health Minister Sarah Hoffman thanked Kaminski. “I appreciate the range of experience Vickie brought to the table, from her work as a front line nurse, to hospital administrator, and then as CEO,” she said in statement.
During Kaminiski’s tenure, AHS awarded an Australian company a $3-billion contract to run lab services in central and northern Alberta, a decision heavily criticized by the NDP. The NDP reversed the decision shortly after winning the provincial election last spring.
Friends of Medicare called Kaminski’s departure a “welcomed step.” “We have a new government but AHS had not changed,” said Sandra Azocar, executive director, in a release.
“There are many challenges ahead for AHS, and we urge the minister to take the time to seek a replacement who will share in the priorities that this government was elected on,” she said. “We hope Kaminski’s replacement means a move away from an often distant and confusing bureaucracy.”
Kaminski, a registered nurse with two MBAs and 35 years of experience in healthcare and administration, joined AHS in May 2014. Her contract was for a three-year term and an annual salary of $540,000.
Kaminski is not the first senior health official to leave office since the NDP won the spring election. Dr. James Talbot, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, left in June after the government declined to renew his contract.
In September, the province said it would not renew the contract of Dr. Michael Trew, Alberta’s chief addiction and mental health officer.
Meanwhile, Kaminski’s departure means that Alberta Health Services now begins the hunt for its eighth CEO in seven years.
Critics say a history of turmoil at the agency is destined to continue until the province fundamentally changes how it governs the health system. Some are recommending that AHS be able to operate at arms length from the government, so that it has a measure of independence.
The perpetual merry-go-round at AHS’s executive offices is a direct result of political meddling, micromanagement and persistent failure to define roles and responsibilities for running healthcare, Liberal interim leader David Swann said.
He and Wildrose critic Drew Barnes scoffed at Health Minister Sarah Hoffman’s assertion that the latest departure wouldn’t affect stability, saying “systemic” problems that began under the former government continue under the new NDP administration.
“If the rank and file are not clear who is making decisions, how to get changes made, where to request things, and who is going to punish them if they step out of line, it is tremendously demoralizing throughout the organization,” Swann said.