Interview: Dr. Michael Gardam, Humber’s New Chief of Staff
Welcome to Humber! Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I’m an infectious disease doctor, but my focus has always been patient safety and quality. Before this, I was the Chair of the Medical Advisory Committee at the University Health Network (UHN). I was at UHN for 20 years. My work has been to prevent the spread of infectious diseases in healthcare settings and to help improve patient safety around the world. I’m still Medical Director of the tuberculosis clinic at Toronto Western Hospital.
How do you describe what a hospital Chief of Staff does?
I’m basically the head doctor in the Hospital, so I’m ultimately responsible for the medical care we provide here. One of my jobs is to bridge the occasional gap between the doctors and Hospital administration.
What drew you to Humber River Hospital?
Humber is clearly ascending! We have some phenomenal programs here. There’s lots of stuff going on from innovation, to quality improvement, and even systemic change. As Chief of Staff I get to have a hand in these.
What do you think makes a good team?
I could spend hours answering this question. I believe that it’s important to flatten hierarchy – I insist that people call me Michael because I want them to feel comfortable speaking up. I don’t think teams need to completely agree on everything, but we do need to hear each other out. The most important thing is to have respect for what everyone has to bring to the table.
What innovations at Humber River Hospital are you most excited about?
Electronic health records are extremely complex and it is amazing what Humber River Hospital has been able to do with MEDITECH. I am also very excited about the automated Pharmacy Department and the lab. The building was designed so intelligently, the way someone can be dropped off outside their clinic like at the airport. And I love how well thought out everything is – patients can control the tint of their own windows!
What is one awesome thing you’ve done in the last year?
Making the move here. After 20 years at the same place, it’s a big deal to uproot and come to a new role. I’m pretty excited.
The other thing is a bit nerdy; we recently published a paper on five years of experience in changing organizational safety cultures in Canada, the US, Ireland and New Zealand
What inspires you?
Seeking to give the best possible patient care that we can give! Not just clinically, but also in terms of how we make people feel. The focus should always be on what matters to our patients. I believe we need to treat people not how we would like to be treated, but how they would like to be treated. We can’t cure everyone but we can treat them compassionately and with respect.