In Brief : CCACs cut referrals to speech-language pathologists / Cracking down on sick days / More

Waits are increasing in Ontario for speech-language pathologists, and according to the Toronto Star, some patients are being told to pay out of pocket to hire therapists at rates of up to $150 per hour. The newspaper reports that Community Care Access Centres (CCACs) have cut the amount of referrals to speech-language pathologists, instead focusing their funding on “higher priority cases.” A spokesperson for Health Minister Deb Matthews acknowledged the wait lists, but said “those who need service the most are getting it.” … As Ontario grapples with moving alternate level of care patients from hospitals to retirement homes, patients may wonder if their shift out of the hospital may eventually come with a bill attached should the province follow British Columbia’s lead. BC is quietly phasing in fees for convalescent care of $29.40 per day, or $894.40 per month. Similar fees had already been in place for palliative and respite care.  Patients can apply for a reduction in the rate through a hardship provision. … The Ottawa Hospital wants to reopen the deal it just signed in March with CUPE. Claiming it was getting less money than expected, the Ottawa Hospital says it cannot afford the deal. CUPE is looking at pushing the dispute into arbitration. Meanwhile, the Ottawa Hospital has calculated that asking staff not to be sick will reduce the number of sick days.  CEO Dr. Jack Kitts sent a memo out to all staff stating the hospital’s absenteeism rate is “significantly worse than most of our peers across the province.” On average, workers at the hospital call in sick 12 to 13 times a year.  The Ottawa Hospital CEO would do well to look at Professor Linda Duxbury’s study on role overload to gain a better understanding why his staff is burning out. (See“role-overload”-study/) The average sick days lost at Ontario’s hospitals is 10.3 days (2009), although other hospitals are struggling with similar absenteeism rates to the Ottawa Hospital, including Orillia Soldiers Memorial Hospital and the Peterborough Regional Health Centre. … A Quebec patient who wasn’t told she tested positive for cervical cancer three years ago is suing the hospital that conducted the test for $760,000. The Charles-Lemoyne Hospital in Longueil never called about her test results. The cancer is now inoperable, and the woman has been given months to live.

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