Dear Providence Family,

Last spring, almost 1,100 Providence staff and medical staff took part in the second Check-In Survey – this is a welcomed 30 per cent increase since the last survey. Thank you to everyone who took the time to let me know how you feel and think about the work environment, the quality of care we deliver, your safety at work and how supported you feel in living our Mission, Vision and Values.

The results are here – Quarterly Check-In page on Connect – but in summary, we heard that:

78% of staff and medical staff would recommend Providence as a place to work
78% of staff and medical staff would recommend Providence as a place to receive care
76% of staff and medical staff feel they have had the opportunity to add to the compassionate care of others on the job
61% of staff and medical staff feel safe at work

Of course, it is pleasing to hear that most staff think Providence is a good place to work and to receive care, and feel they had the opportunity to contribute to compassionate care.

However, I also want to be transparent about the reality of the experience shared in your comments, as we live and work through this extraordinarily challenging time.

I hear you when you say you are physically and mentally exhausted. I hear you when you say you feel threatened by violent or aggressive behaviour from patients and residents – this was particularly relevant for staff who work in the Medicine, Emergency and Mental Health & Addiction units.

I am very concerned that just 61 per cent of staff and medical staff feel safe at work, and in particular I know that this relates to the threat of violence, particularly on some units at St. Paul’s Hospital (SPH), which is where almost half of Providence staff work.

The purpose of the Quarterly Check In is to truly hear staff, and to take action, and we are determined to do more to try to ensure the physical and psychological safety of our staff at work.

To that end, we have established a clearer approach to those who are expressing themselves violently, with a no tolerance policy towards repeat offenders and an increased focus on staff training, to help ensure these measures are implemented safely and rigorously.

In addition to the all-day in-person training sessions on Violence Prevention for all new staff in high-risk areas, here is what we are doing now to address violence at Providence:

• The Violence Prevention Team is delivering monthly Violence Prevention Refresher Training (simulation-based 30-minute sessions) at SPH inpatient Medicine units with the plan to expand this training to other high-risk areas.

• Monthly Code White Training for SPH Emergency Department (ED) staff is a collaboration between the ED, the Violence Prevention Team and Security to help clarify the roles and responsibilities of staff in working as a team during escalated situations.

 SPH ED Code White Simulations for SPH ED staff in applying the Code White procedure to behavioural emergency scenarios with an emphasis on teamwork, communication and de-escalation. As well, we plan to rollout this training for ED staff at Mount Saint Joseph Hospital.

We’re also working on the following new initiatives:

• A Guideline for Behaviour Support Plans for SPH inpatient Medicine will help in proactively preventing and mitigating challenging patient behaviours and provide staff with clear direction on when and how to respond to these challenging behaviours.

• A Restraints Train-the-Trainer education program will provide accessible peer support for frontline staff, knowledge and clarity on PHC’s least restraint approach, while empowering staff with safe care options if faced with adverse situations.

For more information please see the Violence Prevention page on connect. If you have any questions about Occupational Health & Safety, please contact Sandy Coughlin (

We often say that health care workers are heroes, and it’s true that we have seen acts of true heroism during this pandemic. Yet when I think of heroism, what comes to mind is an element of personal risk in service to others.

So I want to be clear: our vision, mission, values and philosophy of care that puts the person-first, does not mean that the safety and well-being of our staff and medical staff comes second. Your well-being at work is my priority and responsibility, and, I will do everything in my power to ensure your safety.

In terms of the staff feedback about their work experience, including feedback on exhaustion, several initiatives are underway to improve staff experience and to develop a more comprehensive staff and medical staff well-being plan.

To give you a couple of examples of concrete actions: We’ve launched a new online staff scheduling system for unionized staff, to make it quicker and easier to organise your schedule, we’ve created new policies and supported new technology to support more flexible work (remote where possible), and we’re supporting training of more new staff (for instance the Health Career Access Program) as we know that a shortage of staff is a fundamental underlying cause of exhaustion. We have so much work to do in this area and I will make sure that we continue to update you on actions we are taking.

Finally, thank you to everyone who expressed appreciation for our efforts in challenging racism and discrimination. Beginning next month, we are initiating a series of workshops for leaders (with the goal to expand this across Providence in spring 2022), focussing on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Foundations, Respect at Work and Bias in Hiring and Promotion. We’re also putting clearer mechanisms in place to respond when staff experience racism or discrimination at work. We’ll ensure that this work is closely aligned with the work on Indigenous Reconciliation and Wellness, and will continue to engage staff and medical staff for feedback and guidance in this important work.

The past 18 months have shown us how incredibly important it is to remain connected, and some of you shared suggestions with me on how we can improve our connections with colleagues (thank you!). Please do check out our new features – the Values in A​ction badges, photo gallery to celebrate colleagues, and discussion forums to share your thoughts on what’s happening at PHC and beyond.

The next survey will launch later this week, and please do continue to participate. Your comments and input do truly make a difference and guide our actions. Thank you for your ideas and energy, and above all for your commitment to the well-being of our patients, residents and families. You change the lives of those we serve.

With best wishes,