September 22nd the South West LHIN approved transfer of 50 mental health beds from Regional Mental Health – London to Kitchener’s Grand River Hospital. Staff are expected to transfer through the month of October, the patients at the end of next month.
The so-called “integration” was expected to go through, and after a botched summer of negotiations between the sending and receiving hospitals, OPSEU did not want to oppose the transfer and leave 56 members further dangling between Kitchener and London.
The workers were originally told they would transfer to Kitchener September 1st, however, St. Joseph’s Health Care was premature in sending letters to staff before an agreement had actually been reached between the hospitals.
During the LHIN Board meeting, Dr. Michael Bryant raised a key point that OPSEU had made in its “No Place To Go” report distributed the day before. The pivotal underpinnings of the redistribution proposal go back to the Health Service Restructuring Commission. While the recommendations emerged in 1997, the actual data it was based on came from 1993.
Given it is 2010, Bryant suggested that best practices have changed considerably in the intervening time, casting doubt on the effectiveness of continuing to follow such dated recommendations.
He also took on the hospital’s assertion that the region will meet the target of 35 mental health beds per 100,000 residents. Bryant pointed out that taking such a blanket approach to planning failed to take into consideration the demographic profile of cities and towns within the LHIN. Bryant said that communities with higher levels of poverty, for example, would have a greater need for beds than a wealthier community.
Bryant is no dilettante when it comes to health services planning. According the LHIN website, Bryant is a professor at The Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario, where he conducts research in the area of health care management. He has held academic leadership positions at The Ivey Business School and The Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.
OPSEU’s report “No Place To Go” was distributed the day before to the LHIN Board. SW LHIN Senior Director Kelly Gillis invited the board to read the report, suggesting OPSEU had done a good job of framing the outstanding issues.
Now that the transfer to Kitchener is out of the way, it is hoped the SW LHIN will take a fresh look at the rest of the plan, which presently includes a considerable loss of mental health beds to the region.