Membership Spotlight: Terry Fadelle

T. Stepanuik: Terry, please provide an overview of your background and career.

T. Fadelle: I graduated from the University of Western Ontario and the University of Ottawa School of Hospital Administration (both names have changed since I was a student there!) and worked a variety of senior administrative positions in a range of hospitals from large teaching to small community as well as leading a community mental health agency, all in Ontario. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed active roles:
– in the OHA, including a stint as Chair of a provincial negotiating team in central bargaining;
– locally and nationally in the CCHL and the ACHE;
– in community volunteer work through Rotary, church, foundation, Probus and other ventures;
– in the recruitment of physicians;
– in the international education field;
– consulting in hospitals, including internationally; and
– as an expert witness in litigation.
My plan is to continue working and volunteering, extending my career as long as I’m contributing positively…and people keep hiring me (or enticing me to volunteer).

T. Stepanuik: What has been one of the most important lessons you have learned during your career? What lessons have you learned as an executive leader?

T. Fadelle: You can learn from your experiences, from both positive and negative events and from good and bad bosses. Forget about the “good ol’ days” and do what you can to be a positive influence. Speak up, but be diplomatic and respectful, and don’t accept the status quo.
The fact that every dollar of cost in the health “system” represents someone’s income makes it tougher to cut back. They may well be clichés but it’s better to do the right things than do things right(ly), i.e., it is more important to be effective than efficient. If you’re doing the wrong thing, it doesn’t really matter how well you’re doing it, it’s still the wrong thing.

T. Stepanuik: How has or how does ACHE help you address the challenges you face?

T. Fadelle: The American College has an impressive library of resources readily accessible to members. Use them…but tools are not a replacement for common sense, honesty and integrity. Networking is valuable and it’s great to be able to bounce ideas or concerns off others (which isn’t always possible internally). Sure, we (the USA and Canada) have very different systems, but leadership transcends borders.

T. Stepanuik: Terry, reflecting back over the course of your career what has been your most rewarding experience?

T. Fadelle:
I replaced a long-serving, frugal dictator as CEO of a small non-union community hospital, which faced an application for certification by the Ontario Nurses’ Association and an accreditation survey within months. Fortunately, the nurses voted against the union, giving me an opportunity to effect a cultural change and, almost a decade later, the hospital remained non-union, a rarity in the province. This paid dividends during the infamous “Rae Days” era, when the hospital secured a Social Contract with staff, resulting in a 20% reduction in the government-imposed budget reduction, the only Ontario hospital to realize this standing. It was doubly gratifying, since others, including the OHA, said it couldn’t be done, and the hospital benefitted, financially, from that every year thereafter. Through much effort, teamwork and change management in a brief period of time, we achieved the top award from the Canadian Council on Hospital Accreditation and replicated tat status during my tenure as CEO.

T. Stepanuik: How have you seen the healthcare management field change during your career?

T. Fadelle: One of the most notable changes I’ve seen in my career is the growth in the number and percentage of females in management positions. There has been a welcome transition from management to leadership. I’ve worked for people who were convinced they could do everyone’s job better than the subordinate. A leader brings out the best in people, allowing them to make mistakes, learn from those mistakes and grow…I believe that is so important, today.

T. Stepanuik: Who have been your mentors?

T. Fadelle: I had the privilege of doing my residency in a hospital under the tutelage of a principled administrator. He explained to me, concerning a senior member of staff, that your personal life is your own business but when your personal life reflects badly on the hospital, it is no longer a private matter. I was, indeed, fortunate to have served under the impressive guidance of, arguably, one of the finest and most respected leaders in the Canadian health care field, Dr. Jim Galloway, truly a gentleman and a servant-leader.

T. Stepanuik: What attracted you to the healthcare management field?

T. Fadelle: As a teenager, I experienced very serious health problems, spending almost two months in hospital, enduring five operations in ten days, double pneumonia, and lots of other problems. Some years later, my surgeon suggested hospital administration was an up-and-coming profession. I saw it as an opportunity to serve and felt I had something to offer. There have been disappointments, to be sure, but I’ve had a fulfilling career and hope that I’ve made a positive contribution.

T. Stepanuik: Terry, how has ACHE contributed to your success?

T. Fadelle: The ACHE gave me an opportunity to meet people, network, build relationships, hopefully, contribute positively to others’ growth and careers, and serve my profession. The College is a resource and a tool to be tapped and used. I’ve actively participated in my professional bodies and continue to serve whenever asked.
T. Stepanuik: What advice would you give to young careerists starting their career in healthcare administration?

T. Fadelle: It may be heresy, but I’ve felt for some time that there are too many schools of health administration graduating too many aspiring health executives vying for positions. The competition is fierce so you need to stand out. Find a willing, reliable mentor with high ethical standards, network, learn from your mistakes (and those of others…you can’t make them all yourself!), respect others and commit to lifelong learning.

T. Stepanuik: What books are you reading at the moment?

T. Fadelle:
At this moment, I’m not reading any books. Recently, however, I read, from the secular world, “The Silk Roads…A New History of the World” by Peter Francopan. I regularly read from the all-time best-seller, the Bible, preferring the English Standard Version.