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Stanton CEO returning to PEI
Kay Lewis retiring after six years in Yellowknife and 35 years in hospital administration

Lyndsay Herman
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, May 23, 2013

There will be a new leader at the helm of the Stanton Territorial Health Authority this year as the current chief executive officer prepares to retire in the fall.

NNSL photo/graphic

Kay Lewis, chief executive officer of Stanton Territorial Health Authority, decided to retire this fall. Lewis has served as CEO since arriving in Yellowknife in September 2007. - Lyndsay Herman/NNSL photo

Kay Lewis, Stanton's chief executive officer since September 2007, has announced her intention to retire in September and return with her husband to Prince Edward Island to spend more time with their family.

Looking back on settling in as chief executive officer of Stanton Territorial Health Authority almost six years ago, Lewis says the job wasn't quite what she expected when she decided to accept it.

"It actually was easier than I anticipated," Lewis said. "Health care is health care in many ways, so I always say 90 per cent was the same and 10 per cent was different and that (10 per cent) was the culture and the geography."

Success for the next chief executive officer will depend on their ability to appreciate Stanton's role within the territorial health system and focus on patient care from beginning to end, beyond Stanton's jurisdiction, said Lewis.

She added that transitions from community health centre to hospital and back again are considered particular times of risk for a patient.

"If you're in a small community and that sort of thing, Stanton doesn't really govern those (health centres) but we need to be supportive of those people, whether they need to medevac someone in here or discharging them back," Lewis said. "We need to ensure that, as systems, we're not putting barriers there."

Lewis was initially recruited as CEO of the Yellowknife Health and Social Services Authority from her position as executive director, a title comparable to chief executive officer, of the Prince County Hospital in Prince Edward Island. She was with the Yellowknife health authority for about a year and a half before taking the Stanton job.

Hospital administration hadn't been Lewis' career goal but after completing a Bachelor of Science degree and a diploma in nursing, she began taking on roles in hospital administration early in her career.

By the time Lewis came to the Stanton Territorial Health Authority in 2007 she had more than 30 years of health administration on her resume.

Since then, the NWT's medical community's enthusiasm has struck Lewis as a true gem of the North, she said.

"I think the North needs to be very proud of what they have as far as the access and quality of health-care services," she said.

"Our wait times are well within benchmark standards for most things, we have a few things that are challenging and we are dependant on southern specialists, but for the most part there is good access and excellent clinicians."

Looking forward, Lewis said success in health care will come from utilizing the creativity and talent of an enthusiastic medical community, which is just as true for the country as a whole as it is for the Stanton Territorial Health Authority.

"We certainly have challenges to sustaining this Canadian health-care system that is so important to us, so we have to try and look at creative and innovative ways to maximize technology and move things forward," she said.

"When you have people working with you who have good ideas and are willing to change, it makes my job easy!"

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