OPSEU supports the call for an investigator to conduct a public review into the Niagara Health System:
The Honourable Deborah Matthews
Minister of Health and Long Term Care
80 Grosvenor St.,
June 22, 2010
Dear Minister Matthews:
The Ontario Public Service Employees Union represents about 650 health care professionals at the Niagara Health System (NHS).
We are writing to support the widespread call for a Ministry-appointed investigator to conduct a public review into the operations of the NHS. Given emerging evidence from Port Colborne and Fort Erie, where the closure of emergency rooms have led to a number of unintended consequences, we would also ask that a moratorium on ER closures be extended to all Ontario hospitals.
The Niagara community has lost confidence in the hospital administration and in an unworkable “hospital improvement plan.”
This March the Ontario Health Coalition facilitated a high-profile panel to travel the province and listen to concerns about the public health system by community members. These community members included municipal leaders, health care professionals, clergy, agricultural organizations, seniors, patients and their families. Nowhere in Ontario was the evidence as compelling as Niagara.
Many of the witnesses presented personal evidence alleging they or their family-members failed to receive appropriate care, including preventable death. In addition to the Coroner’s Inquest into the death of Niagara teen Reilly Anzovino, the NHS admits there is an additional investigation into the death of a patient from septic shock resulting from an infected leg wound.
In addition, we are awaiting the release of the ombudsman’s report into the decision-making process surrounding approval of the plan by the Local Health Integration Network.
While the hospital continues to cut beds, the halls are filling up with patients on stretchers. Not only are these patients in an inappropriate environment, but families are reporting that they are not receiving basic hospital amenities, such as meal service.
Other serious concerns have been raised around the decline of mental health services, wait times, continuity of care, lack of functioning EMS protocols, and the absence of enabling conditions prior to cuts to service.
Even with additional funding, Niagara remains deeply in debt and in the eyes of the community, severely dysfunctional.
We would urge you to act now.
We look forward to your earliest possible reply.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union