By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
After three years in the top spot at Lakeridge Health, Matthew Anderson is moving on up.
Anderson, current president and CEO of Durham Region’s healthcare and hospital network, is joining the province’s new agency Ontario Health effective Feb. 1.
Ontario Health is the result of the Ford government merging numerous other agencies, including 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs), eHealth Ontario, Cancer Care Ontario, and Trillium Gift of Life Network.
Anderson said Ontario Health will encourage “the creation of a modernized and more integrated patient-centered health care system.”
“The mandate for Ontario Health is all-around connected care and all-around integrated care. My background and what brought me to Lakeridge Health is exactly that agenda,” Anderson told The Oshawa Express, calling this a “once in a career opportunity.”
However, he admits it will be a bittersweet departure.
Before joining Lakeridge, Anderson served as the chief information officer and vice-president of the University Health Network.
In 2008, he became CEO of the Toronto Central LHIN, taking on the same position with the William Osler Health System in 2010.
Anderson was named by The Globe and Mail as one of Canada’s Top 40 under 40 in 2004.
“Matthew joining Ontario Health as its president and CEO is a significant step towards building a modern government agency that, once fully established, will be responsible for creating a patient-centred, connected healthcare system that delivers high-quality services to Ontarians where and when they need them with the respect and dignity they deserve,” said Bill Hatanaka, chairman of the board of Ontario Health in a media release.
Anderson believes it’s been a successful three-year run for him at Lakeridge, but he diverts most of the credit to others.
“I would say we’ve got an amazing team at Lakeridge Health, and I’ve been thrilled that they welcomed me,” he said.
In terms of significant accomplishments, Anderson enthused about the response to a fire at Lakeridge’s Port Perry Hospital in 2017.
“That was quite challenging. But the response is a testament to the team all across the system,” he said, “We were able to safely get patients into other facilities in a really quick timeline.”
While Anderson hopes to never relive that situation again, he believes the fact the hospital was reopened almost a year to the day of the fire “really was an exceptional moment.”
He also highlighted the integration of the Ajax-Pickering Hospital into Lakeridge’s system and the development of an Ontario Health Team in Durham Region this past fall.
Anderson notes as Lakeridge has worked towards a new strategic plan, there has been a “phenomenal” response from local communities.
“We had more than 20,000 points of feedback during our consultations,” he says.
Moving forward, Anderson believes the overall growth and aging of Durham’s populations will provide both “challenge and opportunity” to the local health care network.
He says Lakeridge will be focused on providing services to people “without ever having to leave their homes.”
A decision will also be made on the location of a new hospital shortly.
After his departure, Anderson said an interim president and CEO will be appointed, followed by the hunt for his permanent successor.
He thanked all those he’s worked with over the past three years.
“The communities of Durham have been incredibly supportive of the work we’ve been doing,” Anderson says. “I know we have some challenges, but I also know we’ve got some amazing care going on.”