Janet Davidson and Brendan Carr

Leadership Message

There’s no doubt that 2020-2021 tested our resilience individually and collectively in new ways. MORE

Man in clinical setting

Research, Innovation and Discovery

2020-21 year at a glance

financial spotlight

Financial Highlights

This report provides an overview for the year ending. March 31, 2021.

Our Directions

Healthier Together is our plan to help Nova Scotians be healthy and stay healthy. Following our three strategic directions will help guide us to this future.

Our People

24,722 Employees
4,215 Licensed Physicians in NS
6,000 Volunteers

Leadership Message

Brendan Carr & Janet Davidson

There’s no doubt that 2020-2021 tested our resilience individually and collectively in new ways.

Our province faced tragic loss and unique challenges. Nova Scotia Health and the communities we serve responded with remarkable flexibility, creativity and compassion. The theme of this year's annual report Stronger Together: A Year of Resilience could not be a more reflective description.

We began our year facing an unknown virus and global pandemic. Based on what we were seeing in other jurisdictions, we moved quickly to transform our health system. Our public health teams mobilized to support efforts to limit and slow the spread of the virus and protect our population. Inpatient units and testing centres were created as many clinics and services were temporarily halted or scaled back in anticipation of hospital and intensive care unit admissions.

While we did not see a large surge of COVID-19 patients in our hospitals during the first wave, our partners in long-term care (LTC) were not as fortunate.

Nova Scotia Health worked with our partners to support several LTC homes through outbreaks, including Northwood. Our teams offered assistance through our expertise in emergency preparedness, planning, analytics, medical, clinical, infection control and other areas. The experience and learnings from the devastating events at Northwood informed our response to future waves.

In the midst of this, Nova Scotians confronted an unimaginable tragedy when a senseless act of violence led to the death of 23 people and left countless others wounded, traumatized and mourning. The magnitude is difficult to comprehend even one year later and we know our communities and teams will continue to be impacted as the work of the Mass Casualty Commission and public inquiry gets underway.

All of this has had a profound impact on the health and wellness of the people in our province, our communities and our organization. Our Mental Health and Addictions Program responded - launching several e-mental health and addictions tools, expanding capacity and making it easier to access help and support. This has dramatically reduced wait times across the province.

Our response to COVID-19 has involved every part of our health system. Staff and physicians were asked to work differently, and they stepped up to that challenge for our patients and communities - even while facing their own concerns and anxiety. We created new teams and delivered care in different ways – accelerating the use of virtual care in areas such as mental health, primary health care and orthopedics, as well as online appointment booking for blood work and diagnostic imaging services.

Recognizing the extent to which patients and providers were impacted in the first wave, our teams took a different approach to planning for future waves. Our goal was to be prepared, with the capacity and flexibility to respond to emerging COVID-19 demands, while also maintaining programs and services to the greatest extent possible, for as long as possible. As a result, we largely managed to maintain the volume of surgeries completed in the previous year (2019-20) during the second wave last fall and, taking advantage of newly acquired capabilities for virtual care, increased services in some areas.

During the second wave, we also supported the creation of centralized units for care of long-term care residents with COVID-19, and rolled out a robust and dynamic asymptomatic and mobile COVID-19 testing strategy. We significantly ramped up capacity in our laboratory. We now routinely process between 5,000 and 10,000 tests daily with surge capacity if needed. That’s up from about 400 in the early phases of the pandemic.

At the same time, our team worked closely with government to inform and support the overall approach to the largest immunization roll-out in the province’s history. This gave us renewed energy and hope as we ended the year ahead of the third wave which we would face a few months later.

Not only have our teams risen to the challenge, they have done so with a spirt of commitment, collaboration, perseverance and innovation. We are sincerely grateful to them and to our partners who continue to support us. We value the contributions of our foundations, auxiliaries, community health boards, volunteers and patient family advisors and look forward to resuming our shared work together soon.

Over the coming months, we will be strengthening our efforts to support the health and wellness of our teams and cultivate a culture that is open, celebrates diversity and inspires people to excel.

Our recently launched People Strategy builds on our strengths and acknowledges that we still have much to do to create a culture where we can learn, innovate and grow. It is organized around the following key themes:

  • • caring for and connecting with each other
  • • developing people
  • • making it easier to work together
  • • promoting the physical and mental health and wellness of the workforce
  • • building diversity, equity, antiracism and belonging in the workplace

The pandemic has shone an even brighter light on the disparities and inequities that exist for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour within the health system and their health outcomes. As an organization committed to helping all Nova Scotians be healthy and stay healthy, we not only have a responsibility to address systemic racism in our organization, but also an obligation to act to ensure individuals are welcome and safe, and to ensure we attract and retain the best talent and expertise.

Over the past year, Nova Scotia Health has continued to move forward with several important initiatives that will support a more strategic, coordinated, system-wide approach to understanding and addressing systemic racism and bias within our organization. We remain committed to advancing this work.

As challenging as this year has been, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the benefits of being an integrated provincial health authority. It has allowed us to shift our mindset to one of action, where we use data, information and evidence to respond quickly to a need, monitor and evaluate and make adjustments as needed. Our resilience and ingenuity will serve us well as we redesign our system to be more responsive, accessible, reliable and equitable to better support the health and wellness of Nova Scotians. Together we are stronger.

Janet Davidson, OC

Chair, Board of Directors

Nova Scotia Health

Dr. Brendan Carr

President & CEO

Nova Scotia Health

Phone : 1-844-491-5890

90 Lovett Lake Court

Suite 201

Halifax, NS, B3S 0H6