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A Comprehensive and Transformative Strategic Planning Process: Niagara Health


Niagara Health is a regional hospital system with multiple sites and a growing network of community-based and virtual services. The hospital system provides a full range of acute care hospital services to the 450,000 residents across the Niagara region supported by over 7,000 employees, physicians, volunteers and patient partners. 

From late 2021 to early 2023, Santis was engaged to guide the Niagara Health Board and executive team through a comprehensive strategic planning process. At the time of our work, Niagara Health was embarking on a period of transformation with a new CEO, the development of a new hospital, and the implementation of a new hospital information system. The organization was looking to conduct comprehensive engagement and gather broad-based input to inform the organization’s new strategic direction and develop a plan that would help Niagara Health achieve ambitious but realistic progress in a period of ongoing change. 

What Santis Did

From late 2021 until the launch of the plan in early 2023, Santis: 

  • Planned and facilitated numerous engagement meetings with the Niagara Health executive team and Board of Directors, guiding leaders through challenging discussions with implications for the future of the organization.
  • Developed the plan and content for engagement with regional and system leaders, as well as Niagara Healths staff, physicians, and volunteers to share information about Niagara’s activities and to request their participation in tailored engagement opportunities. From background information, facilitation materials, interview guides, and survey questions to invitations, email drafts, promotional videos, website content, and intermittent updates and memos, Santis supported Niagara Health in meaningfully engaging their stakeholders to shape and inform their strategic plan. 
  • Led the design work for the final plan product while working closely with Niagara Health’s internal communications team on stakeholder communications and engagement, and simultaneously assisting in planning for the launch of the plan. 
  • Provided strategic advice to the senior leadership at Niagara Health to support effective plan adoption and implementation. 


  • A unique, timely and focused plan of action: With Santis’ policy insight and research savvy team, the Transforming Care Strategic Plan not only reflected the needs identified through engagement with leadership, external stakeholders and staff, but also fit within the context of the broader environment Niagara Health is operating in. 
  • A clear and shared understanding of success: At the time this plan was developed, Niagara Health was entering a period of significant change. Recognizing this context, Santis worked to help Niagara Health develop a shared understanding of what the organization is aspiring to achieve, and what it will look like to succeed in delivering on the commitments that have been made. 
  • An engaged and informed audience: Reaching over 1,000 stakeholders through the process, the planning process enabled Niagara Health to meaningfully connect with their team members and key partners. Santis helped Niagara develop extensive engagement communications materials including an informative launch video and hybrid webinar, comprehensive web content, and a tailored multi-methods approach to ensure team members were brought along in the process and fully equipped to give meaningful input to the planning process. Each strategic pillar reflects the key input from stakeholders that informed the planning. 

Our Work In Action