Note from Michael Feb 2, 2023 | Finding Room for Optimism

From the desk of Dr. Michael Gardam, Health PEI CEO


Notes from MichaelHi everybody,

February is a month with many major recognition events to observe and celebrate, and I always want to take the opportunity to celebrate our people, our work and the people we serve. I’ll get into each of the recognition months below. 

First though, I want to take a moment to soak in some optimism. You may be asking, “what are we to be optimistic about?” We’re still in the middle of the worst staffing crisis we’ve seen, and many of us are still struggling under the burnout and pressure cooker effects of the pandemic. 

But there are signs things are turning, and we need to embrace that momentum. We are getting strong signals from government that one of the key factors we require to succeed – enough funding to support our staff and services – is coming. The Federal Government promise of additional funding, including up to $48 million for PEI next year, is good news. 

Funding alone isn’t going to solve the health care crisis we find ourselves in, but there is also real traction in key areas that need to change. 

Supporting staff better is a primary focus of our organization and our People Strategy is moving forward quickly to implement the changes you said you need in the Employee Engagement Survey, in consultations and in direct feedback to leaders. Action plans are in development to improve Health PEI as an employer and as a place to work. 

The message that recruitment and hiring needs to become nimbler and more responsive to health care needs is being heard across the province. That’s a key area where we need to make inroads, and we are. 

Our teams on the frontlines are continuing to do amazing work against amazingly frustrating obstacles. Our Patient Medical Homes and Neighbourhoods are developing and growing; our provincial bed flow model is helping make the most of a difficult capacity situation; our home care strategy is seeing more people supported in their homes; the Mental Health and Addictions team is operationalizing new structured programming and intensive day programming; even our unaffiliated patients are getting at least some access to care through widely available virtual care and in per Primary Care Access Clinics. 

These are just a few successes that have emerged over the past months, and they all align so well with the goals of our Strategic Plan (if you are ever feeling rudderless and wondering where the health system strategy rests, give this a read over.) 

As staff, you are doing a lot to make PEI a better place to receive care. I think it’s important we remind ourselves of that.

Black History Month: February is Black History Month. For Prince Edward Island, it means acknowledging the often-overlooked role Black people have played in our history. The first Black people on the Island came against their will, as slaves of Loyalists arriving in the late 18th century. Once freed, they settled in a marshy, undesirable part of Charlottetown known as The Bog. 

There, despite the odds forever set against them, they became a thriving community. The history of PEI is full of amazing contributions and achievements of Black Islanders. 

Health PEI’s People Strategy includes some important goals about equity, diversity, and inclusion. We need to work to ensure Health PEI reflects the populations we serve while providing an equitable and inclusive environment to work in. We’re committed to that. A diverse health workforce contributes to better patient outcomes by reducing barriers of language, cultural norms, and expectations. Sometimes those biases are unconscious—that’s not an excuse we can use any more. We need to identify and acknowledge these blind spots and work for a better, more inclusive Health PEI.

Heart Health Month: Every February marks the annual Heart Month. This month raises awareness about heart disease and helps people learn ways that they can protect their heart health. Many of members of our health teams are involved in heart health, right from the prevention of heart issues to the treatment of chronic, acute and emergency conditions, as well as the equally important rehabilitation from serious heart conditions. If you’re interested in learning more, here’s one story about a man who received excellent care and rehabilitation.

Psychology Month: Our Health PEI teams are fortunate to have many highly trained professionals who help our patients and client achieve their best possible mental health. February is Psychology Month, when we highlight the contributions of psychologists. As specialized health care providers, psychologists provide a wide array of expert services, treating and assessing patients and clients, leading teams, and helping educate the public on mental health issues and concerns. I love seeing members of our psychology team contribute on Compass or in the newspaper, for example, where they have often provided sage advice to the public on issues such as how to manage trauma from pandemics, hurricanes, floods, you name it!

Health PEI Snapshots, February edition: The newest edition of Snapshots is out! Please follow the link to read about advances in the glucose sensor program; perspectives from a mental health and addictions client and a patient public partner; the successes of the secondary stroke prevention clinic; and the opening of the Mental Health Structured Programming and Day Treatment facility.

I encourage all of you to subscribe to the newsletter to get it direct in your inbox monthly, and please share it with your friends and family! We want more people to see some of the good stories about health care on PEI and the good work you do!



Please send questions, comments, or submissions for these notes to, subject line “Notes for Michael”.