Janice Kaffer: A Vision for Community Health That Goes Beyond Hospital Leadership

Cover art for Episode 40, with a photo of the guest, Janice Kaffer (Former CEO, Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare)

(Access show transcript) Early in her leadership journey, Janice Kaffer, Former CEO of Hôtel-Dieu in Windsor, realized that you need people around you who think differently than you and have different skillsets. Building that kind of team resulted in better decisions, including those that weren’t always easy for Janice to make

Show Summary

Today we’re talking with Janice Kaffer, who up until early January was President and CEO of Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare in Windsor Ontario. She’s calling this time semi-retirement as she continues to work on a project that will keep her connected with the hospital for at least six months.

Janice honestly admitted on social media last year that being a leader in a time of extended crisis takes a toll. When she did finally take some time off, she recovered her sense of self in a surprising and delightful way – by doing Lego. It grounded her in a way she could never have imagined. 

Janice says it took some time to understand she was more than a hospital leader – that she was a community leader as well. Her own modest upbringing convinced Janice that she had an obligation to talk about issues around poverty, politics and the social determinants of health because it all has an impact on health. 

Today she’s proud of the part she played and continues to play in changing the perception in Windsor of what a hospital is and what it can be.

Mentioned in this Episode


Imagine you could step inside the minds of Canada's healthcare leaders, glimpse their greatest fears, strongest drivers, and what makes them tick. Welcome to Healthcare Change Makers, a podcast where we talk to leaders about the joys and challenges of driving change and working with partners to create the safest health care system.

Ellen Gardner: Welcome to Healthcare Change Makers, a podcast produced by HIROC, I'm Ellen Gardner with Michelle Holden and Philip de Souza. Today, we're talking with Janice Kaffer, who up until early January was President and CEO of Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare in Windsor, Ontario. She's calling this time semi-retirement as she continues to work on a project that will keep her connected with the hospital for at least six months. 

Janice honestly admitted on social media last year that being a leader in a time of extended crisis takes a toll. When she did finally take some time off, she recovered her sense of self in a surprising and delightful way by doing Lego. It grounded her in a way she could never have imagined.

Janice says it took some time to understand she was more than a hospital leader, that she was a community leader as well. Her own modest upbringing convinced Janice that she had an obligation to talk about issues around poverty, politics and the social determinants of health, because it all has an impact on health. Today, she's proud of the part she played and continues to play in changing the perception in Windsor of what a hospital is and what it can be. 

Welcome, Jan.

Janice Kaffer: Well, thank you very much for having me. I'm delighted. Absolutely delighted to be here.

Ellen Gardner: Congratulations on moving to this new phase of your life and on your incredible accomplishments as CEO at Hôtel-Dieu Grace. You handed the reins over to your successor, Bill Marra, a bit earlier than planned. Why did you feel it was important to do that now?

Janice Kaffer: I think there's a couple of things. Bill and I had been working very closely together over the past 10 years actually, he was one of the first executives. He was at that time in the foundation when I joined the Windsor team. And through the last two years of the pandemic, Bill has been at my side, we've been working together, we went into the nursing home together. We've led most of the response together. On this third or last wave, not third, I guess is the fifth, but this wave of Omicron, the board and Bill and I were all very concerned about some confusion in leadership voice in the organization, having an incoming CEO and an outgoing CEO, trying to manage a situation that is probably the worst of the situations we faced over the past two years.

In discussion, it seemed reasonable to move the transition up a little bit. So effective January 1st, and I've taken on a project for Bill that he would've been leading, that I'm now taking on and he's got a full leadership responsibility of the organization. I'm very comfortable with that decision as is Bill and as is the board.

Ellen Gardner: So you're keeping your hand in it a little bit, not quite at full departure.

Janice Kaffer: Yeah. We're calling me semi-retired, I think. It’s very difficult actually to go at 1,000 miles an hour and then just stop. And I have been experiencing a bit of that. So having some work to do, working with the organization and the team still has been really beneficial for me and helping me to transition, but it's also good for the organization. The experience I have with Hôtel-Dieu is 10 years deep. And this particular initiative that I'm working on with the team is short term, but I will continue with the organization for up to six months as an advisor to Bill, the executive team and the board.

Ellen Gardner: I read your parting message on LinkedIn, and you talked about the importance of gratitude and some of your hard-won leadership lessons. One of them was about taking care of yourself and not letting the role become too all consuming. It did sound like there was something very personal there and you in fact said, "Don't be me." So in these times of enormous change, especially in healthcare, isn't it incredibly difficult not to let that happen?

Janice Kaffer: Oh gosh. Yes. And when I said, "Don't be me," I was reflecting about a year ago, I wasn't a 100% my full self. I had not really been able to identify that I was too tired to be as effective as I needed to be. And thankfully I had a team around me that didn't hesitate to point out that I needed some time away. And part of that I think is that you get... In a leadership position, especially in the CEO job, you're accountable to so many people for so many things.

You're accountable into the organization for making all the decisions and being that voice of reassurance in a time of crisis. And then you're accountable to the community for the messaging you're delivering. I'm very active on social media, I try to be very active with our community. And you're also accountable to the board to make the right decisions and keep the organization moving forward.

All of those various accountabilities, I think in many ways are all-consuming in times of crisis. Because the crisis has been going on for so long, and it's not constant, it's ebbing and waning periods of intense activity, so you never really get a chance to step away from that time to take care of yourself unless you make that time, and I didn't make that time. 

So that message on LinkedIn was really for people to remember that your family and the people that love you are the ones that need to be there and need your attention for your own well-being as well as theirs. And that if you don't take care of yourself, if you don't step away from the work, if you don't take the vacation time, if you don't turn off your phone from time to time and give responsibility to someone else so that you can take the time away, then your ability to actually lead becomes compromised.

That is actually what happened to me. So, I took a week off and in the local paper, I had written a LinkedIn post at that time too and the local paper wrote a story about it. I could not believe the amount of commentary and the number of people who reached in to say that this really resonated because they had themselves been not really feeling themselves and didn't know quite how to take care of themselves. 

So, for me, I took a week and did Lego of all things. My grandkids love Lego, but they're brutal! I find little bits all over the house. So, I decided I would put one or two of them together, and I found it so satisfying. I ended up doing all of them and there's considerable number of them, plus my kids' Legacy Legos, my son's Star Wars Legos from the 1980s. And so, I put all those together too, went online and found all the little books. 

There was something about that, being able to start something, finish something that I hadn't been able to do for a considerable amount of time, that was so incredibly grounding for me. I came back on the other side of that week a lot better, not fully myself yet, but a lot better.

Ellen Gardner: You're not the first leader to tell us that they needed someone else to tell them they needed to step away. That you're so immersed in it, you can't see that there's a cloud over you and you're not making the best decision. So you did listen to the people around you telling you, you needed to make a change.

Janice Kaffer: Well, that's the value of building a team of people who actually aren't you. There's a whole lot of leadership theory out there about how to build a successful and a high-performing team. And I think one of the tenets that I've always paid attention to is that you need people who think differently than you, and you need people who have different skillsets than you. There are leaders who build a team full of people, who tell them what they want to hear, who are like them, who don't necessarily speak truth to power. Not power in a big, ugly way, but power in a way of making decisions. 

I think the team that we built at Hôtel-Dieu Grace was incredibly diverse and very involved in the decision-making at all levels.

It wasn't always me that had to make the decision. I really always benefitted from the fact that many members of the team at the organization, from frontline staff all the way up to board members, felt very comfortable sharing their thoughts and their ideas and their suggestions and calling it out when they thought it wasn't right.

Ellen Gardner: Jan, can you tell us about your upbringing and what motivated you to become a nurse?

Janice Kaffer: I'm one of three girls, I'm the oldest. So I have that oldest child syndrome always wanting to take care of things and frustrated when I had to take care of things. When I was growing up, my mother always said I had to look after my sisters and I took the responsibility seriously, but was really annoyed about a lot of those times, my sisters would tell you that. We didn't have a lot of money, my dad was a bus driver in Toronto. I grew up in Toronto and my mom stayed home for the first number of years, and then eventually went to work in retail. 

I grew up in the early 70s and enjoyed the 70s very much. And my parents gave me a lot of free rein. Academically I got a scholarship, graduated grade 13 (back then we had grade 13) and I was going to go to university. I had met my husband, Bernie. We've been married a very long time now. I met him when I was 16. I was still in high school and he was a cadet in the Toronto Police Department.

I graduated grade 13 and started at York University. My husband and I at that time were engaged. Then there was a professor strike at York University. So all the students had to go home. I got a job and I enjoyed having some money for the first time in my life. Really we didn't have a lot when I was growing up, so I had money to buy things. I had money to go out and do things. And I really enjoyed that. So, I quit university and my husband and I got married in 1979. I was 19 and I got a job working as a secretary to a buyer for Towers Department Stores, if you remember Towers Department Stores. 

I don't even remember why we went, but we went to a school fun fair. I went with my sisters to our school fun fair, and one of my friends and rivals in high school, her name was Eileen, was at the fun fair. She was dressed in nursing whites. She was in school, she was taking the nursing program at one of the local colleges in Toronto. She looked amazing and all grown up and successful and people were making a fuss about her. 

I thought to myself, "Well, if Eileen can do that, I can do that." I was very competitive with Eileen. And so I went home and looked up colleges. I applied to Centennial College and went to nursing school. So unlike some people who had this great calling, I was always embarrassed. People would talk about this calling to be a nurse and how they wanted to do good in the world and all of that. And I always thought to myself, "Well, what kind of a person am I? The reason I went in is because I wanted to do better than Eileen." 

But at the end of the day, it was a real for me anyway, it was 37 years of the most amazing career.

Meeting some incredible patients through the years. People that I still remember. The first patient that I ever cared for through till death and some of the kids I looked after when I was doing home nursing and the nurses I worked with and the people I've had the pleasure of working with over the years as leaders. And it's been an amazing career for me.

Ellen Gardner: You have a strong voice on social media, Jan. We have noticed that you don't hold back in a way that some leaders do in terms of your personal thoughts on things and talking about important issues, like vaccinations, and diversity and inclusion, and the pressures on healthcare teams. Why have you felt as a leader that it's important to speak out on these things?

Janice Kaffer: At the beginning I wanted our communications team to do all the talking for Hôtel-Dieu Grace, and let me just be in the background, doing my job, managing the hospital, working with the staff and that kind of stuff. I don't think I fully understood what the job of a CEO was. Over the years I developed a perspective that the job of the CEO for a community hospital, it isn't just about leading your own team. It's also about talking about those things in your community that affect health in the broader sector, in the broader sense of what life is. So, I've always been very committed to the social determinants of health.

I grew up in a family that didn't have a lot. I remember one year we got a delivery of a Christmas basket because we didn't have enough money to do that ourselves.

So, I've always acknowledged and recognized the impacts on health of poverty, of not having enough, of not being secure with your housing. My parents rented for a very, very long time, and whenever the landlord came to the door, I know my mother was nervous, because she always dressed herself really nicely when she came to pick up the rent cheque. Because we never knew if she would say that she's not going to rent to us anymore, we wouldn't have a place to live. 

So those kinds of things really settled into my soul, I think in a lot of ways. And so over time I got the opportunity to get involved in some community initiatives. One of them is a collective impact initiative called ProsperUs here and it really is designing solutions to have a positive impact on the reduction of child poverty and kids graduating from high school, to change that trajectory of intergenerational poverty.

The more I learned, the more I believed that I had an obligation to talk about those things because they impact health, and they impact the healthcare system in the longer term. I think for me anyway, the realization that the political cycle of that every four years in election and every four years, every government wanting to make a difference in health because it is a provincial responsibility and so much money in the budget. It really flies up in the face of what needs to happen to be able to effectively change community health and community health is bigger than hospitals. And so in my own little way, I've been trying to have those conversations with the community and to link the work of the hospital, to the work in community, to be able to create a different conversation.

A different conversation about what hospitals can be, what hospitals can do. And Hôtel-Dieu, has really changed over the years, and I know that Bill will continue that work because we're more than a service delivery organization. We are, at least we've tried to be an organization that really connects to the community in a way that speaks to a longer term contract to change health for the better.

Ellen Gardner: Sometimes when you're speaking out, it can be about difficult things and occasionally unpopular things. Have you weathered the pushback from that or has it really given you more courage to speak out about things that are a little bit controversial?

Janice Kaffer: In many ways, I haven't had a ton of pushback. The Windsor Essex niche, it's a really good community in lots of ways. What I would say about my activity on social is that I've actually learned an awful lot. There are some strong advocates in our community for workers, we're a very much a union town, Windsor is. Windsor Essex is a very much a union community, and so I've learned a lot about perspectives of labor, that maybe I wouldn't have had as much understanding of if I hadn't been involved in social, because in many ways being a CEO, your information is filtered by the channels that you leave yourself open to. Right? And if all of your channels are your internal organization or other CEOs that are in the same business as you, then really you're not necessarily getting all the perspectives you need to get to be an inclusive leader.

And so that was the perspective I took to it. I've had some really interesting conversations with people that I fundamentally disagreed with, but I absolutely learned something from them, and I'm hoping that they learned something from me. But at the end of the day, I enjoy it. I enjoy talking to people. I'm not a real social animal. Ellen, to be honest with you, I don't walk up to people and talk to them, I find networking very painful. Bill is very good at networking. He's done that really, really well and introduced me to a lot of people over the years. But for me, I'd rather stay home on my sofa and watch a good movie, to be honest with you. So social media allows me to interact with people in a way that is super comfortable for me and allows me to get messaging out and to receive messaging that's really important in my decision-making.

Ellen Gardner: So let me take this down to your leadership role within the hospital and yes, making some tough and sometimes unpopular decisions. And I'm sure that happened to an even greater degree during the past couple of years.

Janice Kaffer: Yep. 

Ellen Gardner: What have you learned about having to make those difficult decisions and talking about them with your team?

Janice Kaffer: No difficult decision that I've had to make in the 10 years that I was at Hôtel-Dieu or the seven when I was CEO were made by me alone. Every single one of the difficult decisions, and I can think of a number of them, were made as a result of conversation, discussion, consultation, feedback from team members, oftentimes from individuals, especially when they're care decisions, individuals who are actually at that coal face, as we say in Nova Scotia, of the care. And so I think the best decisions are the ones where there have been multiple and diverse points of view. They're also the hardest decisions though, because when you're making a decision that's really difficult, typically there's some sort of an emotional impact to it, or some sort of an impact on people. 
Because if you're just deciding to lift the gates to give free parking, that's not a difficult decision. There's a financial impact, but at the end of the day, you'll pay for it. Right. 

The difficult decisions are the ones that impact people, especially in the service industry, in healthcare in particular. So we made a number of very difficult decisions that at the end of the day were mine to make, and I take responsibility and accountability for them. So it's that people impact, I think that is the hardest thing. So, if you are consulting and collaborating with your team, the hard part after you make the decision is going back to those people who you know are going to disagree and keeping them engaged and keeping them part of the team and feeling valued, feeling validated that their perspective was heard, even though you went in a different direction. 

I think that is at the end of the day, the hardest part of leadership is to keep people understanding and helping people to understand that the decision you made was for these reasons and feeling that you should explain it, even though some leaders don't always explain.

Janice Kaffer: And that's one of the things I learned over the years, is that leaders who don't explain their decisions, aren't really great leaders. You really do need to explain to your team if you've engaged them in the decision-making. In terms of the decisions that were the hardest for me to make, I think there's two, one of them would be the decision to close the doors of the organization to visitors early in wave one. And our organization, our hospital had done a lot of work in family presence, and we had an active patient and family advisory council. And the decision to close the doors to visitors was actually heart-wrenching for me. I didn't sleep going into the decision-making and I didn't sleep for days afterwards. And I kept thinking about all these patients and all the family members.

I think that's one of the lessons I take away is that once you've made the decision stop revisiting it, because that's one of the things I think that led me to some fatigue. Because I really had a hard time reconciling that decision. And the other really super hard one was the decision around the vaccine mandate. And some of the people in our organization that chose not to get the vaccine and exited our organization. That one was particularly hard for me as well.

Ellen Gardner: When you look back on some of these decisions and now you've had a little bit of time and can look at them, have some perspective on it. Do you feel like you would've done things differently or that really there was at the time no other way to do it?

Janice Kaffer: I don't think I would've done anything differently because in both cases, we talked about it, we worked it through, all members of the team were engaged in decision=making. I think I would've done a better job at helping my team members with the first decision around exiting patients. I didn't realize until quite a bit later, how much of a burden that was for the management team. I knew it was difficult for them, but I didn't really fully understand how difficult it was for them to have to go to those family members and talk about this with them. And I don't think I gave them as much support as I could have as CEO. But the decision itself was the right decision, both of them were. And ultimately, I think if you make the right decision for the right reasons, even if you do it in a clunky way, you can look back on that and say, "I'm okay. And I'm at peace with that decision."

Some CEOs across province have had to make very, very big decisions about shipping patients to different hospitals. I can imagine how difficult some of those decisions have been made. And I think for me, living with tough decisions is really about, is it the right thing? And if it's the right thing, then how you got there matters, but how you live with it also matters.

Ellen Gardner: One of the biggest challenge for healthcare leaders today is attracting and retaining staff. And we know that, that's a big crisis in the healthcare landscape right now. So over the course of your career, Jan, what's your strategy been around engaging and motivating staff?

Janice Kaffer: I think the most important thing for me has always been creating a workplace, creating a culture that is inclusive of staff voice. And that has been what we have worked on at Hôtel-Dieu Grace. Years ago in Nova Scotia, when I worked in Nova Scotia, I saw what Capital Health did under the leadership of Chris Power. And Capital Health introduced ways of creating voice for staff and patients and family members. At that time, I was a Chief Nursing Officer in a smaller health authority in Nova Scotia, and I watched what was happening at Capital Health, and I thought to myself, "What an amazing idea to bring multiple voices to healthcare." It had been talked about in lots of places, Magnet hospitals in the U.S. had been around for a long time, but I hadn't actually been close enough to see it implemented.

Chris had built a theory and a philosophy around Peter Senge's work. And I was really inspired by that. I had tried on multiple occasions to bring Unit Based Councils to my teams when I was a manager at Peterborough Regional Health Centre, way back in the day, I had tried to create unit councils and to have staff involved in unit decision-making. 

But really, unless it is an organizational commitment and an organizational priority, it never really works. And so one of the things that was really important to me when I got to be CEO at Hôtel-Dieu was to be able to create an opportunity for patients and families to have voice, but also for staff, so that there's balance.

And we've had a really good success with Unit Based Councils at Hôtel-Dieu. And I think that staff who have a voice, they have a budget that they can spend to create their own quality and change initiatives on their unit, where they feel that they have an opportunity to make decisions for their own workplace, that they are involved and engaged in what change is happening and what change needs to happen.

I think those are areas that really help to retain and engage and motivate staff. Creating good management team, developing managers, we had an executive coach at Hôtel-Dieu Grace for the first six years that I was CEO there. And that executive coach coached from a LEADS framework. So, we introduced LEADS to the organization, which is really around competencies and helping managers to build their skillset, learning about more than budgets and running effective meetings. But you know how to coach people, how to get the best out of people, how to work through difficult times and all of that, because good managers run good teams and good teams are where people want to work.

All of us, including Hôtel-Dieu, are really challenged by the nursing and the healthcare shortages that have been brewing for as long as I've been a nurse. I've been a nurse since 1984, I'm now retired. And every year, every four years, there're these cycles of hiring and then budget cuts and then hiring, and then budget cuts. This cycle has been extremely difficult for nursing over the years. I didn't get my first full-time job for a very long time. And my first full-time job actually was a management job. 

In reality, unless we start taking seriously that the healthcare system is too lean is, is too efficient, is needing to have some investment, retaining staff is going to be difficult. I worked in home care for a long time, Ellen, and the last thing I'd say on this one is that we have to get over the fact that, and start to talk about the fact that the system needs to be connected and what happens now is that parts of the system raid other parts of the system for staff.

And so, one section of the healthcare system will be working tickety-boo, and then the rest of the system is short because the wage differentials, the difficulties in home care. And so I think there's a lot that can be done there, but for me anyway, what management can do, what CEOs can do, what leaders can do is to build an organization, build a workplace culture that has the opportunity for staff not to just take direction, but also to be part of developing that direction.

Ellen Gardner: What's one initiative that you started at Hôtel-Dieu that you're proud of and hope will continue to grow?

Janice Kaffer: I think our Patient and Family Advisory work. I'm super proud of that work because I think in many ways, our organization and the patient and family advisors have really changed the culture at Hôtel-Dieu. And I think there's a long way that we can go with that, the hospital can go with that. 

I think that's internal, on an external level, I think the initiative I'm most proud of at Hôtel-Dieu is the work that we've been doing in the social determinants of health, in recreating the understanding of the community of what a hospital is and what it can be. When I first got the CEO job, my board chair was a lady named Carol Derbyshire, and she was the Executive Director of Hospice. Locally, an amazing organization. And we went on a board retreat and the board said to me, "Jan, over the course of your time, one of the things we'd really like you to do is change healthcare in Windsor Essex, to be more inclusive of the social determinants." That isn't exactly how they said it, but that was what I took away. And a big, hairy goal.

And I thought to myself, "Wow, that's not a small job. I'm sure I can do that." I can change the whole community. Sure. But for me, that mission is I think, what is really incredibly important because with the change in the way healthcare needs to be organized around Ontario health teams and more integration at the community level. And a better understanding of people's health and healthcare and what's different between being healthy and needing healthcare and how can a hospital engage in that discussion and be part of that discussion? 

For me, I think that that's the thing I hope that Hôtel-Dieu continues doing. I know that Bill is very engaged in that, the board is very engaged in that. So I have a great deal of confidence they will, and I'm hoping to continue to be involved in that work, through some volunteer activities on boards and different ways that I can help small organizations do some of the work that they need to do around strategy and planning and stuff like that.

Ellen Gardner: What would you say would be one thing that organizations could do to make work lives easier for women and give them the opportunity to focus as much on family as on developing their careers?

Janice Kaffer: That's an excellent question. And it's something I've thought a lot about actually throughout my career. We talked a little bit about this at Hôtel-Dieu, and haven't been able to find a way to do it. But one of the things is childcare at work. I did not have great childcare when I was raising my kids. I had friends who helped out and I raised my kids on a 50-acre hobby farm in a small community called Roseneath in Southern Ontario. It was a small population, everybody knew everyone. And so my kids had lots of places they could go after school because I was in school myself and picking up shifts at the local hospital. And so, I think childcare is one thing that is incredibly important. 

I honestly think when you go down to the real roots of it is I think women have to be able to see themselves being able to do whatever they want to do. And our job as leaders, as institutions, is to take the barriers and as much as possible, remove those barriers for them. 

So, it's about ease of education, if they want to better themselves, if they want to move their career forward, can you offer education in the workplace. And that's why we had a coach, an executive coach at the hospital is to give women and men opportunities to develop themselves because oftentimes women feel a little uncomfortable about approaching other successful women in positions of power. I experienced that myself when I was a young leader and I wanted to be mentored by Mary Ferguson-Pare, she was at the time the Chief Nurse at University Health Network. And she was the President of RNAO when I was on the board of RNAO. I worked up the gumption after several months of trying to figure out how to ask, to ask her if she would mentor me.

And she immediately said, yes, she would. Absolutely no question. And anytime anyone has ever asked me, I've said the same thing. But I think a lot of women hesitate to ask and I think leaders have an obligation to make sure that everybody understands that we're open to mentoring, we're open to that coaching and we're here to share and to assist and to bring a hand down or a hand over, to help another leader develop.

Ellen Gardner: I know you're just in early days of retirement, but I just wanted to ask what you're looking forward to as you enter this next phase of your life.

Janice Kaffer: I don't know yet. I think I'm looking forward to finding out what this next phase of my life will be. I put it out there in the social media universe that I was open to opportunities for some volunteer work. I have been very fortunate in my life and I know I'm a very privileged woman. I have earned a good salary. I have done well in my life. I have a healthy and happy family, and I'm not quite ready at 62 to stop helping. And I don't know what it is I'm going to do. I don't know where it is I can be helpful, but I do know that I've had a couple of in reaches on a couple of opportunities that I'm exploring to give back a little bit to my community, a board I'm talking to someone this afternoon about a board opportunity, and I've had some really interesting conversations.

One thing I do know is I've signed up for an executive coaching program because as we just talked about, I believe very strongly that I have an obligation to give back. I didn't start out with all the advantages in life and I've worked very hard since I was 15. I got my first job when I was 15. I've worked very hard since I was 15 years old to build a life that I think had some value and had some meaning. And I want to continue to give. And so I'm taking an executive coaching program and I plan to offer coaching to primarily young women, primarily young women who maybe can't afford an executive coach. If there's something for me to do, then it'll find me. And if there's not, then I'm going to be the very best Amma that I can possibly be, while my shorties want me around.

At some point, the oldest is 11, and I know the day will come in the next few years where she will find me embarrassing, because that's what happens with kids. And so I have a few years to make sure that she'll circle around on that one real quick and come back into to the fold.

Ellen Gardner: Okay, well, we've moved to the lightning round portion of the interview. So, Jan, I think, you know how this works. We're just going to throw a couple of questions at you. Just tell me the first thing that comes into your mind. So can you name a company or healthcare organization, whose culture you really look up to?

Janice Kaffer: Yep. Hospice Windsor. It's an amazing organization that provides palliative care and I've never experienced anything quite like the feeling when I go into that organization.

Ellen Gardner: What's your best tip for dual career couples?

Janice Kaffer: Patience. Lots of patience and sticky notes on the fridge.

Ellen Gardner: What are you reading now?

Janice Kaffer: Well, for light reading, I am reading The Vinyl Cafe Celebrates by Stuart McLean. I love a good laugh and I've read his books, The Vinyl Cafe, I read one on an airplane and died laughing. And I think my seatmate thought I was nuts. So I'm revisiting Stuart McLean's work. And I'm also picked up a book called Educated by Tara Westover, and it looks really good. I'm looking forward to diving into those.

Ellen Gardner: Can you give us one word or two words of advice for someone just starting their career?

Janice Kaffer: Get a mentor, get a coach and ask lots of questions.

Ellen Gardner: And what's one thing you've learned or a skill you've honed in 2021?

Janice Kaffer: This one is a hard one for me. I'd say that the one skill that I've honed is being kind to myself and having patience with myself to not be all things to all people.

Ellen Gardner: Jan, thank you so much for a great conversation. It was really wonderful talking to you. We feel very fortunate to just capture you at this pivotal time in your life and your career. So we wish you all the best as you just move into this new phase of your life.

Janice Kaffer: Thank you so much, Ellen. I have enjoyed talking with you tremendously, and I hope that at the end of the day, people who are listening to this, take one message away from it. It's that leadership is a journey.

Ellen Gardner: You have just been listening to our interview with Janice Kaffer, former CEO of Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare in Windsor. For more information about HIROC, and to listen to past episodes of Healthcare Change Makers, go to our website, hiroc.com. Thank you for listening.

Thank you for listening. You can hear more episodes of Healthcare Change Makers on our website HIROC.com and on your favourite podcasting apps. If you like what you hear, please rate us or post a review. Healthcare Change Makers is recorded by HIROC's Communications and Marketing team and produced by Podfly Productions. Follow us on Twitter at @hirocgroup or email us at communications@hiroc.com. We'd love to hear from you.