A good chief should be the right mix of leader and visionary.
By all accounts, retiring Lennox and Addington County General Hospital president and CEO Wayne Coveyduck exemplified those qualities.
His 16 year tenure saw major upgrades ushered into the Napanee hospital such as the establishment of an acquired brain injury home, chemotherapy services, echocardiography and mammography, just to name but a select few. That doesn’t even include the projects that he got started and are well on their way to completion, namely the installation of an MRI machine and breaking ground on a 128-bed long-term care facility.
In an era where neighbouring rural communities were at risk of losing their hospitals altogether, LACGH continued to expand. Most impressively, the hospital managed to do so while remaining fiscally sound. Most communities the size of Napanee are lucky to even have a hospital to begin with, much less one that offers the level of services LACGH boasts.
Much of that can attributed to the community’s ongoing support of its hospital and its dedication to keeping health care close to home. The leadership of Coveyduck played a major role as well-not only to make the leap of faith to get the ball rolling on these projects, but additionally his ability to ‘sell’ the idea to those around him. More than a few politicians have commented at various press conferences at how Coveyduck was tenacious in holding them to their promises. Though it was always said in jest, there was probably a lot of truth to the statement as well. Politicians will speak in broad terms whenever possible and will often delay sharing the nitty gritty details until a later date. Coveyduck, so its been said, wasn’t afraid to call up those politicians and keep pushing LACGH’s projects forward, preventing them from getting lost in the red tape. So much so that it was said it would be easier just to finalize the project rather than having to field another phone call.
At the other end of the spectrum, this reporter often heard of the CEO’s softer side when it comes to working with Volunteer Services. His penchant for letting that organization do what it does best has not only helped the service flourish, but it has helped stretch the hospital’s perpetually thin budget to offer better all around health care.
The COVID-19 pandemic was unlike anything any hospital had ever seen and there were times when our corner of Canada was considered among the best at managing its spread. Doing so went far beyond the efforts of one person or health care facility, but LACGH certainly played its role under Coveyduck’s leadership. Weathering a global pandemic required all hands on deck and pushed many in the health care field to their breaking point. In announcing his retirement, LACGH board of directors credited Coveyduck’s ability to both retain and attract staff during the COVID crisis.
Incoming hospital CEO Michael Bell will have big shoes to fill, but by the sounds of it, his predecessor has set him up for success.