The person now at the helm of Collingwood General and Marine Hospital (CGMH), started below deck in the accounting office of his hometown hospital.
Michael Lacroix is the new president and CEO for the hospital, dropping the “interim” from his title on June 27. Formerly, he was the hospital’s chief financial officer.
Lacroix, a father of four boys, said he began his career expecting to end up on Bay Street or in a GTA bank, but changed his mind thanks to a summer internship.
Originally from the Penetanguishene/Midland area, Lacroix took a placement at his community hospital in a general accounting role.
Though being a nurse or a doctor or a surgeon was “not in his DNA,” Lacroix said he was drawn to the healthcare field.
“It clicked for me … I did see the value I could bring,” he said. “That excited me and it did put me down the path.”
And now the path has led to the president’s office at CGMH, which he takes over from Norah Holder now that she has retired.
“Norah was a great mentor for me,” said Lacroix. “What she’s told me over and over was just to be myself.”
As leader of the hospital, he aims to take her advice and be “an authentic leader,” relying on the team as a collective unit steering the hospital.
"This is a very dynamic hospital," said Lacroix. "It's an honour and a privilege to be at the helm and that's because of our team, our senior leaders, and more importantly, I think, it's the patients ... "I'm not an island, but I'm part of a great team."
First order of business is “and always has been” the hospital’s development.
CGMH is in the second of a five-phase capital redevelopment process with the province that will end in a new or rebuilt hospital for Collingwood.
“We’re about halfway through the [phase 2] process and working well towards our goal of having it submitted to the ministry in the first quarter of 2023,” said Lacroix.
According to information provided by CGMH on its hospital redevelopment website, the second phase involves creating a “functional program” planning document using projections for growth in volume and user groups the hospital will need to serve in the future. The document will describe future services and the staff and space needed to offer those services.
“To a certain extent, it’s a wish list, but for the most part it’s driven by data,” said Lacroix. “Anything we put together now is going to exceed our expectations based on what we’re living in now in this existing hospital.”
The third and fourth stages of the capital process with the province will involve developing a design for the new hospital, with stage five being the renovation or construction of the building.
Lacroix said the hospital plans to run more public engagement on the process this fall.
“We’ve had zero issues with engagement,” said Lacroix. “Everyone wants to be part of these tables and help inform the future of healthcare delivery for South Georgian Bay.”
In the meantime, however, Lacroix and the CGMH team continue to work on delivering services with the existing space and resources.
“Right now, I think every hospital in this province is dealing with some health and human resource challenges,” he said, noting CGMH has several clinical and non-clinical job postings up now.
There’s also a backlog of surgeries and procedures that was present before the pandemic and has been exacerbated by closures.
“I think over the next number of years, it’s going to be the balance of trying to recruit healthcare professionals and also the service delivery side of things where we have a backlog,” said Lacroix. “These two combined equal one of our greatest challenges.”
Innovation will have to go beyond space and staff resources as inflation also puts pressure on the hospital’s operations.
“Like every industry, we’re faced with inflationary pressures,” said Lacroix. “It’s one of the focuses for us as well, is making sure we can combat some of those inflationary pressures, but they do put pressure on the bottom line.”
The new president is looking forward to continued work on the recently created South Georgian Bay Ontario Health Team, and on furthering mental health care by advocating for inpatient beds in Collingwood.
“I’m very excited to see how we can contribute to overall healthcare, not just acute care and hospital care, but how we can contribute and work with our partners to help improve health care and community health in general,” said Lacroix.
He promised to do his best for his community, and shared his personal motivation as a husband and father of four boys between four and 10 years old.
“What drew me to healthcare in the first place was having that indirect impact on our patients and their families,” he said. “As someone who lives in this community … I want the best care for my family and my neighbours.”
Lacroix has been part of the CGMH staff since 2011. He was named interim president and CEO on April 15, 2022 and named permanent president and CEO on June 27.