Code Blue in Ottawa: Marlene Rivier chairs a panel including (R-L) Maude Barlow (Council of Canadians), Mike McBane (Canadian Health Coalition) and Natalie Mehra (Ontario Health Coalition).
OTTAWA - Natalie Mehra says The Ontario Health Coalition is drawing a line in the sand when it comes to service transfers to private endoscopy clinics from The Ottawa Hospital.
Speaking at a “Code Blue” forum in Ottawa last night, the director of the coalition said the privatization of these hospital services were “unprecedented,” part of a series of changes that had become “divorced” from planning around patient need in the Ottawa region.
Mehra raised questions about the capacity of these private clinics to absorb 4,000 endoscopies, particularly when they were likely to lengthen wait lists.
Given endoscopies are going to be individually funded by the Local Health Integration Networks this year, funding normally allocated to the hospital for these procedures cannot flow from the LHIN to the private clinics given such clinics are outside the scope of the LHIN.
The transfer of endoscopies to private for-profit clinics also is in direct contradiction of the Ontario Health Minister’s commitment to transfer services to not-for-profit providers in the community.
Mehra also debunked the myth that the cuts to hospital services were merely part of a new reorganization of health care, noting the lack of funding support from Queen’s Park to home care over the last decade. Even with the recent funding increases, per patient funding is lower today than it was before the McGuinty Liberals took power in 2003.
Ontario is presently entering year two of its austerity program, convinced that it is the only way out of an economic problem that wasn’t even created here.
We have previously highlighted economic arguments that suggest austerity creates a self-defeating “fiscal drag” that compounds debt and deficit problems. Now a new book by a pair of academics on either side of the Atlantic argues that not only is austerity self-defeating, but it is also bad for your health.
In The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills, David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu present a convincing analysis that austerity policies have made citizens involuntary subjects of a grand experiment in public health. If you recently lived in the UK, Greece, Spain or Italy, you’ve likely recently witnessed very different population health outcomes than if you lived in Sweden, Iceland or Denmark.
The authors argue that this is not the first time this austerity versus stimulus experiment has taken place. In the U.S. States that adopted the depression-era “New Deal” stimulus programs had much better health outcomes than those that refused to do so.
“Economic choices are not only matters of growth rates and deficits, but matters of life and death,” the authors write.
In their peer-reviewed study, the pair of PhDs state that investment in the right programs can not only alleviate human suffering, but can itself spur economic growth. For every $1 invested in public health programs, the net benefit to the economy is $3. By anyone’s standards, that’s a sweetheart deal. Yet ideology prevents us from seeing the evidence before us.
Nobody can say Robert Biron didn’t know what he was getting into.
The former CEO of Cobourg’s Northumberland Hills Hospital has come to the big city, the next in line to take on the seemingly impossible task of fixing The Scarborough Hospital.
The good news is, unlike many of his counterparts at other hospitals, Biron will release the full details of $18 million in financial measures the hospital plans to implement to balance the budget.
The bad news is The Scarborough Hospital is still facing $18 million in cuts and fee hikes.
Biron is suggesting that there might yet be some flexibility in how the hospital tackles its deficit, telling The Toronto Star that “my first priority as we move forward is to reach out to these key stakeholders and hear about their concerns and suggestions about how we might move forward together to redefine health care delivery in Scarborough.”
July 24-26 the provincial Premiers will be meeting in Niagara-on-the-Lake for the last Council of the Federation meeting before the 10-year federal-provincial health accord expires.
What comes next is largely a mystery. The federal government has committed to increased transfers but appears disinterested in what the provinces do with that money.
Federal transfers will continue at the 6 per cent threshold until 2017 but eventually align with economic growth. No matter what, the federal government has committed to a minimum growth in the Canada Health Transfer of 3 per cent.
Whereas the last accord was about reducing wait times for key diagnostics and procedures, there is no consensus about whether there will be any national objective over the next 10 years.
Health care groups are already organizing for the Niagara meeting, plans taking shape for a shadow summit and rally July 24-25.
Ontario Shores now has its orders from the Ministry of Labour.
It’s been almost a year since staff at the Whitby mental health centre went public with their concerns about violence at the Centre, expressing concern and frustration about a lack of meaningful action by their employer.
For all the activity Ontario Shores has shown to date, little has changed in the monthly statistics that show staff being assaulted on an almost daily basis.
Last September we noted a paper by Queen’s University faculty Dr. Heather Stuart suggests that aggressive behaviors differ dramatically in treatment units, “indicating that mental illness is not a sufficient cause for the occurrence of violence.”
Stuart states the “majority of incidents have important social/structural antecedents such as ward atmosphere, lack of clinical leadership, overcrowding, ward restrictions, lack of activities, or poorly structured activity transitions.”
Now Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences has a very detailed prescription to follow from the Ministry of Labour. Limited in its scope, the Ministry of Labour is not in a position to evaluate the impact of cuts to programming at the Centre on the behavior of those in their care.
This is one of the more ambitious low-budget videos we have seen that makes the case for unions in Canada. Made by Corinne Dara, it is billed as a parody of Gangnam Style. It certainly brought a smile to our faces. Nothing like enjoying your union-won weekend in the Ottawa snow! Check it out and pass it on using our share button.
It’s been a hornets’ nest for the past two months.
Quinte Health Care’s plan to shut down its lab at Trenton Memorial Hospital and replace it with “Point of Care Testing” (POCT) has raised the ire of local doctors, politicians and community members in this town of about 20,000 residents.
QHC plans to close Trenton’s lab in late September.
Doctors say the closure of the lab is the beginning of the end for Trenton’s emergency room – leaving the town with a glorified “first-aid post.” The hospital denies this, arguing the Picton and North Hastings sites maintain ERs with only POCT.
With cuts to nursing staff also part of the plan, the doctors question how emergency room nurses will have the time to safely operate POCT equipment.
POCT has remained controversial far beyond the confines of Trenton.