O’Fee out as Interior Health board chair

By on September 22, 2017
John O’Fee. (Herald file photo)

By: Chirstopher Foulds (Kamloops This Week)

John O’Fee says he has no hard feelings after being replaced as chair of the Interior Health board.

The new NDP government removed O’Fee as chair on Friday, replacing him with Dr. Doug Cochrane, the chair and provincial patient safety and quality officer of the BC Patient Safety and Quality Council.

O’Fee teaches business law at Thompson Rivers University and is a former Kamloops councillor and former CEO of the Tk’emlups Indian Band. He was appointed chair of the IH board less than a year ago, in October 2016, by then-B.C. Liberal health minister Terry Lake.

“[Health Minister] Adrian Dix called me yesterday,” O’Fee told KTW. “We had a good conversation. The minister was very professional. It’s the reality of the position — these are political appointments.”

O’Fee was chair of a health organization with a $2.2-billion annual budget and 20,000 employees.

He said the move was not surprising and that he was expecting such a call.

“That’s just what happens,” he said. “Every party does the same thing. The Liberals did exactly the same thing when they came to power, so you can’t be wagging your finger.”

Cochrane’s appointment takes effect immediately. O’Fee, whose annual stipend as chair was about $35,000, will not receive severance pay.

“And nor should there be,” he said.

In addition to the O’Fee move, Dix has replaced board member Cindy Stewart with Dr. Selena Lawrie, a family physician and site director for the University of British Columbia family practice residency program at Royal Inland Hospital.

“They have significant experience in health care and their dedication to their communities will contribute to our goal as a government to provide leadership for a strong public health-care system in British Columbia,” Dix said of the additions to the board.

The changes on the Interior Health board are part of the NDP’s decision this week to replace four chairs and 11 members on health authorities’ boards of directors across B.C. and on the Provincial Health Services Authority.

Health authority boards are responsible for the governance and management of health services in the province. They work with health authority leadership to establish the organization’s overall vision and ensure there is appropriate community consultation. Boards also regularly review the organization’s long-term plans, look at significant issues affecting the organization and evaluate results.

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