Interview with Dr. Zaki Ahmed, Chief of Staff
Welcome to Humber! Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I’m originally from Toronto but I’ve been away for 28 years. I’ve trained in Chicago and completed three specialties there for Internal Medicine, Respirology and Critical Care, so I’ve been all over the place.
Post-SARS I moved to Thunder Bay to take over the ICU and run their Educational Department at the Hospital. I was the Chief of Medicine for 10 years, then Chief of Staff for three years. The original plan was to stay in Thunder Bay for two years then go back to Chicago, but my family and I ended up being there for the last 15 years.
I also have two kids, a 13-year old boy and a 16-year old girl and my wife is an independent dental hygiene practitioner, so she has her own practice and clinic.
How do you describe what a hospital Chief of Staff does?
A Chief of Staff is responsible for the quality of the Hospital and all physician-related matters. From a quality perspective, you want to make sure the care being provided at the Hospital is appropriate, timely, safe and efficient. We also want to make sure it’s equitable, so it’s important to make sure that our physicians at the Hospital are cognizant of those principles, which many already are and that’s fantastic! We’re already far ahead, which is great!
From a service provision, I work with the physicians to make sure there’s enough call coverage for all the physicians and that we’re all fulfilling our educational responsibilities. In addition, making sure that the care provided by the physicians is something that the community is looking for and if there’s any community needs, we will try to build those areas.
What drew you to Humber River Hospital?
I’ve always been intrigued by the Command Centre. When that arrived at Humber, I read about it in the Technology Magazine and thought it was just the coolest thing. I’ve always been interested in seeing it up close and personal. As a matter of fact, I reached out to a staff member of the Command Centre prior to COVID, and asked if I could see it, which they of course happily obliged to. When I came in the first time for the site visit, I was amazed!
Plus, the Hospital itself is a really beautiful building!
What do you think makes a good team?
Trust is number one! You need to have good trust amongst everyone who is around you. Secondly, you need to have a purpose, so everyone has to be working towards the same purpose. Another key element of what makes a good team is having good role clarity in terms of what each team member is going to do. Lastly, I would say having accountability is important. You need to be able to hold yourself accountable and hold the team accountable to do what you’re supposed to.
What innovations at Humber River Hospital are you most excited about?
Some of the innovations that I’m most excited about are already within the Hospital such as the same-day Orthopaedics surgeries and the Outpatient Hysteroscopy Program. From the Obstetrics and Paediatrics standpoint, it’s being able to monitor the patient remotely in the Command Centre, which is fantastic! Those are some of the innovations that are really cool to see and have in the Hospital.
What is one awesome thing you’ve done in the last year?
My family and I went on vacation to Hawaii and went scuba diving with some humpback whales. We were able to hear the whales too and that was pretty cool.
What inspires you?
Challenge! I’m always looking for that next big challenge and try to figure out how to solve it, who do I need to get involved, how do I go about it in terms of making sure that we’re achieving the purpose of the challenges, but also get people trained, so that they’re prepared to accomplish those challenges themselves.