Pat, we hardly knew you.
A year after being appointed OHA CEO and President, Pat Campbell has mysteriously disappeared from the OHA.
In a remarkably short announcement June 12, the OHA notes that its Board of Directors has appointed former Mike Harris aide Anthony Dale as their interim President and CEO effective immediately.
It has been a rocky road for Campbell.
This spring she looked less than stellar in responding to the CBC’s Rate My Hospital program.
The same month former OHA CEO Tom Closson publicly disagreed with her interpretation of the Quality of Care Information Act after the Humber River Regional Hospital mistakenly declared a newborn baby dead and claimed the results of their investigation had to be kept secret.
In May the OHA was uncharacteristically snippy about the provincial budget, complaining both about the lack of planning and the refusal of the Wynne government to rig the arbitration process in favour of the hospitals.
We’ve noted several times the absence of Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq when it comes to media inquiries about issues within her jurisdiction.
Her performance in Parliament likely gives us a good illustration why.
The absence of a renewed Federal-Provincial health accord has raised considerable discussion over what the role of the federal government should be.
The 10-year 2004 accord set a number of national objectives for the provinces and federal government to work towards, the most prominent being wait times.
It is therefore reasonable for the opposition to ask questions when the Health Council of Canada — set up to monitor that accord — starts throwing up warning flags that achievements in reducing wait times are beginning to erode.
Responding to a question from NDP health critic Libby Davies, Aglukkaq cryptically responded that the problem was really two Quebec NDP MPs who were having trouble paying their back taxes.
“Our government is making record investments in health care, including new e-health initiatives I announced some time ago,” Aglukkaq told Parliament. “It is Canadians who pay those taxes. When members of the NDP caucus do not pay their taxes, it takes money away from services Canadians value, like health care. It is bad enough that they vote against health care investments, but now we know that some members of their caucus are not even paying their fair share of taxes.”
Aglukkaq might have well answered by talking about car washes and kittens for all the relevance her answer contained.
There are some that would like to portray labour and many of our community partners as being reactionary towards the shift of services from hospital to the community.
The reality is labour actually represents substantial numbers of members in the community health care sector.
We’re not anti-community – in fact we believe that the community sector is not nearly robust enough.
The problem comes with the cuts to the hospital system. The evidence would suggest that hospitals have already taken the cuts to enable the transfer of funding to the community sector. In lay terms, we already gave at the office.
Yet we continually hear the call as if Ontario were top-heavy in spending on hospitals. In fact, per capita funding for hospitals is among the least in Canada.
This idea of transferring services is not new.
What is the value of a promise?
In some cases we have chastised government over the lack promises kept, such as the 10-year mental health strategy that never materialized. Or the lack of community-based resources that were supposed to replace a decade’s worth of hospital bed cuts. Or the long-delayed strategic plan for health care the Local Health Integration Networks were supposed to initially use as a guide for their own integrated health service plans.
In other cases, we’d rather hope the Minister of Health simply forgot some of her promises, such as the one to re-introduce competitive bidding to home care or base the decision to implement a resident quality inspection (RQI) on how many complaints and critical incidents a nursing home experiences. To her credit, both were policy duds and it appears were only offered up once and quickly abandoned.
Matthews has made many promises around fixing long-term care, as has her predecessors. Yet we get a regular serving of scandal on this file, evidence that the fix was either not happening or not happening quickly enough.
When we learned Monday that Matthews had taken the bold step of more than doubling the number of long-term care inspectors, we were both stunned and pleased by the news.
Oddly throughout the day we heard from a number of sources that Matthews had previously made this promise before and never followed through. The suggestion was we shouldn’t celebrate too quickly – at least not before we see the whites of the new inspectors’ eyes.
Well that didn’t take long.
Last week Health Minister Deb Matthews said she had asked officials to come forward with options on how to improve inspections in the province’s nursing homes.
This was the opening we had been looking for after a year of raising concerns around the lack of inspection staff to keep the homes accountable and residents safe. With existing inspections staff, it would have taken more than five years for every Ontario long-term care home to receive a detailed resident quality inspection (RQI).
With more than 2,000 complaints and critical incidents to investigate each year, it was impossible for the province-wide staff of about 80 inspectors (about 65 active in the field) to carry out the detailed proactive work they knew needed to be done.
A single RQI can involve three inspectors and take up to 17 days to conduct.
This morning Matthews announced she was adding 100 new inspectors – more than double the present complement – at a cost of $12 million.
Ontario’s Community Care Access Centres could have been very different had events unfolded differently in the early 1990s.
At the beginning of that decade home care was considered to have more of a leg in social services than health care.
The Rae government, like those that followed, were attempting to transition services from hospital to community and realized the potential of home care to look after patients discharged early from hospital.
The NDP were also sensitive to complaints that health care policies were being decided by the provider community, not by the users of the system. To that end, they not only encouraged widespread consultation, but even funded groups – particularly those representing seniors and the disabled – to speak to their communities and report back on what they heard.
That process was massive, involving more than 75,000 people, 110 provincial associations, 1,800 submissions and nearly 3,000 public meetings – all taking place within a five month window.
While the previous Peterson government had preferred more of a brokerage model – similar to today’s CCAC model which contracts to for-profit and not-for-profit agencies – the consultation process demonstrated that there was little appetite for a system most believed to be bureaucratic and fragmented.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged CCAC, Coalition home care roundtables, Community Care Access Centres, Competitive bidding, George Smitherman, Home care, Hudak position on home care, Liberal position on home care, NDP multi-service agencies, Ontario Community Support Association, Ontario Health Coalition, VON
For more than 30 minutes a resident of The Wexford went on a rampage, roaming the halls of the Scarborough long-term care facility, battering one woman before leaving his own floor and heading upstairs to kill another.
It wasn’t the first time that this resident had been involved in a violent assault at the home. A psychiatrist had assessed the resident as a chronic risk to others and recommended he be placed in a psychiatric group home better suited to manage his behaviour.
Despite a scathing Ministry report on the incident, the last time The Wexford had undergone a detailed inspection by the Ministry of Health was 2009.
Last year Health Minister Deb Matthews had said homes that generated few complaints or critical incidents would not likely undergo such an inspection, since the new resident quality inspection (RQI) regime would only apply to those homes that raised the most red flags.
The Ontario government has always maintained that getting alternative level of care patients out of hospital is so much more cost-effective than having costly beds tied up with patients who have essentially finished their acute care treatment but are otherwise unable to go home.
The question is, cost-effective for whom?
This week a proposal to set up a 25-bed convalescent unit at a Sudbury retirement home fell through when Health Sciences North (formerly the Sudbury Hospital) learned that standards around convalescent care would actually apply to a convalescent unit. Imagine that?
By applying those standards, the convalescent unit would actually cost $1.4 million – money the hospital says it doesn’t have.
Northern Life says Dave McNeil, Health Sciences North’s vice-president of clinical services, told the newspaper that it was hoped the unit would cost between $300,000 and $800,000 a year to run, depending on the patient’s ability to contribute financially to their care.
In short, they were contemplating patients picking up as much as $500,000 of that tab for what would clearly be substandard care. Assuming the 25 beds were full 365 days a year, that would amount to a levy of about $55 a day. A two week stay would therefore cost about $770 without any extras.
On the other hand, if the patient were medically unable to be discharged from hospital, their care would be ordinarily covered under our Medicare system and guaranteed under the Canada Health Act.