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London hospitals’ new Windsor boss expected to shake things up

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Major change may be in store for London Health Sciences Centre as its new, interim boss has a history of making things happen in health care.

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LONDON, ONT. — Major change may be in store for London Health Sciences Centre as its new interim boss has a history of making things happen in health care.

David Musyj, president and chief executive at Windsor Regional Hospital, was named acting chief executive of London Health Sciences Centre last week and comes to London with a reputation as a prudent fiscal manager, an executive not afraid to act and someone with close ties to the Ontario government, health-care sector observers say.

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“He gets results. I assume they needed a tough job done and he will do it. He can certainly handle unpopular changes,” said Patrick Hannon, co-chair of the Windsor-Essex Health Coalition, a health-care sector watchdog.

“I would watch for major changes. He has a history of making changes.”

LHSC announced Musyj’s appointment on May 17 and he begins his new role this week. Windsor Regional Hospital said in a release that LHSC requested Musyj’s secondment.

LHSC has been under investigation by the Ontario Health Ministry after The London Free Press was reported in November 2023 the hospital planned to spend $470,000 on three trips for senior executives. Soon after that, chief executive Jackie Schleifer Taylor took a leave of absence and is still off the job. 

London Health Sciences Centre also faces a deficit of $76 million this year, about $30 million more than its shortfall last year.

“I suspect he is going into London to clean it (LHSC) up. He may be brought in to do what others would not do, implement major change and re-organize,” Hannon said.

Given Musyj’s background, Hannon said he would not be surprised to see him evaluate the structure and size of the executive team at LHSC as well as its spending.

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Musyj is on secondment for an indefinite period of time to LHSC and is expected to live here during the review. He is expected to return to Windsor.

In Windsor, Musyj was part of the establishment of Windsor Regional Hospital through the amalgamation of two hospitals. Most recently, he has been a driving force for the establishment of a new acute-care hospital in the city, a $2-billion undertaking now under construction.

In difficult times he has kept the budget of the hospital in check. When other hospitals ran a deficit, he was balancing budgets,” said Dave Cooke, a former provincial NDP cabinet minister and Windsor MPP who has since worked as a chairperson for the Local Health Integration Network in that city and worked on committees with Musyj for the new Windsor acute care centre being built.

“He is a good financial manager and has the confidence of people in this community.”

Cooke stressed LHSC is important to Windsor, as well as London and region, as patients are sent to London for transplant and bypass surgery.

“David has the confidence of the Ministry of Health and the government. They have worked with David extensively, and sought his advice on a number of issues.”

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One London doctor is speaking out about the appointment, saying greater change is needed at LHSC.

Many of us feel that what the LHSC needs, instead of another acting CEO . . . , is for the ministry to dismiss the board and the top two tiers of the executive ranks,” and appoint a supervisor who has sweeping authority to make change, Don Farquhar, a consultant in adult and pediatric respirology and professor emeritus at Western University, said in an email.

“We have a hospital board, with a history of selecting CEOs whose brief tenures, in the eyes of many, have set the institution back and harmed its reputation, that continues to make questionable and ill-advised decisions about senior management.”

Prior to Taylor, the hospital fired chief executive Paul Woods in 2021 after four years on the job.

Peter Bergmanis, with the London Health Coalition, said he suspects Musyj was an Ontario government appointment to take over the top job at LHSC and not a board of directors’ hire, even if it is temporary. Musyj has his work cut out for him and needs to build bridges with “demoralized” LHSC staff and the community given the hospital’s lack of transparency, Bergmanis said.

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“I think he will need to be more open and transparent, to make inroads with staff who don’t trust leadership. It is a tall order,” Bergmanis said.

LHSC board chair Matthew Wilson referred questions Tuesday on Musyj’s hiring to LHSC communications staff.

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The Ontario Health Ministry also said the hospital should answer staffing questions.

“We congratulate David Musyj on his new role as interim CEO. David has been a leader in connecting people in Windsor to high-quality care, and we are confident he will bring those skills to London Health Sciences Centre,” said a message from Hannah Jensen, Ontario health ministry spokesperson.

LHSC has a total budget of more than $1.5 billion and about 15,000 people work at the hospital.  

ndebono@postmedia.com

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