“Trust requires good communication”

Mari-Anne Härma.

PHOTO: Sander Ilvest

Acting head of the Estonian Health Board Mari-Anne Härm says in an interview to Postimees she wants to use the summer to determine what led to loss of trust between the government and the board.

How have you settled in?

Very well. People from the ministry, partners are calling me to offer support and help. It has been great in that sense. I have not had to solve any major problems yet. I feel supported.

Any ambition to take part in the competition to find the agency’s new director?

It is not about ambition, I believe, but I do not plan to run. I believe that people who do must have the trust of healthcare workers. As put by [Minister of Social Affairs] Tanel Kiik – it is a post where one has to know everything and everyone.

It requires surefooted leadership and corresponding experience. I have been with the board for six months. I have a lot to learn still. Of course, I can help people and keep the board going based on my experience from the crisis for these months. However, to really move forward in these difficult times, we need a capable manager.

How has the resignation of several experts – director general Merike Jürilo, deputy director and infectious diseases specialist Jelena Tomassova and head of the emergency medicine department Martin Kadai – affected the board’s work ability?

It is difficult to say as we only saw Martin Kadai here yesterday. The situation is calm. The epidemiological situation remains good, with greater challenges probably in store in fall. It is difficult to say what effect it has had.

We have a strong crisis-hardened team. We have learned from each other, we have will to cooperate and know-how. I believe it is not a major problem, but it might be too early to say.

Is lack of trust between the board and the government still a problem?

Firstly, we should try and determine whether trust was lacking in the agency or merely its management and where did it start. Trust requires good communication that needs to be consistent, open and honest. Without communication, trust is very difficult to maintain.

I would like to use the summer to determine what went wrong. Whether it was lack of communication or whether trust was missing for different reasons. I do not know what happened, but I will try to find out.