Niagara Health System (NHS) will get a fresh look at its controversial Hospital Improvement Plan (HIP) that closed down two ERs in Fort Erie and Port Colborne.
The Minister of Health has ordered what is called a “third party” review although members of the NHS board will be part of that review along with representatives of the municipalities and the Local Health Integration Network.
The review will only look at phases of the hospital improvement plan that have already been implemented. It will not look at phases that have yet to be implemented, including changes to pediatrics and birthing.
According to Niagara This Week, the Minister stated in her letter to Niagara Regiojnal Chair Gary Burroughs “after thoughtful deliberation and consideration, I have come to the conclusion that an independent, third-party evaluation of the implemented phases of the HIP would be valuable.”
The review is certainly welcome, although two of the three parties engaged in the review were responsible for the initial HIP that has upset residents of the Niagara Region.
While deficits at NHS have been again climbing, Matthews insists the original HIP moved the hospital in the right direction.
Further terms of the review have yet to be determined and will be left up to the LHIN.
On the eve of an election, the news opens the door a crack after years of active lobbying by the local community, including Sue Hotte and the Yellow Shirt Brigade.
The HIP was ordered by the LHIN in May 2008 and was conducted largely by executives from the Ottawa Hospital, including Dr. Jack Kitts. The report was submitted in October 2008 and approved by the LHIN in January 2009.
We’re not breaking out the champagne down here. This is just another indication of the arrogance and cynicism of the McGuinty government. Matthews knows damned well that nothing is going to happen on this “review” before the October 6 election. This move is intended to help shore up support for Kim Craitor, Liberal MPP for the Niagara Falls/Fort Erie/Niagara-on-the-Lake riding. Kim has stuck his neck out for his constituents on the question of hospital restructuring time and time again, and joined the chorus demanding a third-party investigation. The NHS has a projected deficit of $7 million — is it likely that the cuts are going to stop? This review will provide a neat excuse to put the renovations to the Niagara Falls Hospital — which looked as if there were in jeopardy due to the shortfall — on hold.