We will adapt

Dr. Gillian Kernaghan selfie

As CEO of a large health care organization, Dr. Gillian Kernaghan has to have razor-sharp focus. That can be especially challenging during a pandemic when her professional career is stretched and her personal life is taking a hit.

As President and CEO, Gillian already had a demanding role that required significant dedication to regional and provincial work. “When COVID-19 started, all travel stopped. National and provincial work moved to virtual platforms or work halted completely,” says Gillian. “My role turned to the regional pandemic table exclusively, and I relied on the excellent team at St. Joseph’s to lead our pandemic response.”

St. Joseph’s acted quickly to ensure continued provision of quality care to patients and residents while following changing government directives. “The response at St. Joseph’s has been truly incredible. We moved nimbly to provide virtual care, and partner with other hospitals and community partners.”

Always proud of her organization, Gillian recognizes the burden the pandemic is taking on everyone, yet sees everyday St. Joseph’s intrinsic desire to rise to meet the needs of the community. “I am always in awe of the strength of the people here. I appreciate now more than ever the ability for our staff and physicians to step up to face challenges, support one another and embrace new ways of doing things.”

In her personal life, Gillian struggles due to some of the measures in place. “My husband is a resident in long term care, and I have not been able to visit him for over two months; that is really hard. Our family is a close family and we have had very little contact, except virtually, during this time. I have a four-year-old grandson and I watch the impact on him. It has been a sad time for all children but especially for an age group that does not have the emotional maturity to process the loss.”

Both professionally and personally Gillian misses the physical presence of others. “Health care is a team sport, and although a lot of this can happen virtually it is not the same as being in a room with great minds. I miss being together, I miss being present for my staff – however one thing I have learned from this remarkable time in health care is our ability to adjust and remain committed and connected as best we can. We will adapt – and we will continue to achieve our goals.”

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