Peterborough Regional Health Centre and the elephant in the room

Peterborough Regional Health Centre CEO Ken Tremblay certainly tries hard to fit in with his community. The reality is he was sent in to do a job – downsize an active regional hospital in order to tame a budget deficit. That doesn’t always make you the most popular guy in town.

Ken Tremblay also writes a BLOG which is posted on the hospital’s web site. The BLOG contains entries about health care, restructuring and the importance of hand washing. It also features some folksy bits and pieces about Ken, including a picture of his dog Charlie.

Recently Ken posted about his “staycation” this summer in which he spoke about doing some odd jobs around the house, playing a little golf, and doing some recreational reading. Last year he even included pictures of himself atop an elephant as he described his vacation in Thailand.

Nobody begrudges Ken his vacation. As for the little personal anecdotes, it’s nice to know who your boss is.

However, the situation for workers back at the hospital has not exactly been rosy under Tremblay. While the CEO tells us about his splendid vacations, back at PRHC workers are being denied their summer vacations due to staff shortages.

With 250 to 300 fewer staff at PRHC, the hospital is having difficulty filling shifts and maintaining service. The performance dashboard the hospital posts on its web site is full of red and yellow boxes indicating the hospital is not meeting quality targets. Under Tremblay’s watch, for example, the PRHC went from having a better than average standardized hospital mortality ratio to a much worse one. While earlier this year Tremblay boasted to the Local Health Integration Network that the hospital was ahead of its target to reduce overtime, the reality is there is much anticipation that the overtime numbers will be more than just “creeping up” over the summer.

Further, workers tell us that the hospital is also doing more contracting out to replace the work of the people they let go, calling into question whether these layoffs will really lead to permanent savings.

Hospitals use something called the “NRC Picker” to survey staff satisfaction. While staff tell us they were surveyed over the winter/spring, the posted numbers are much older — from September 2010. We have to wonder why.

A year ago Peterborough scored 29.9 per cent on staff engagement and satisfaction. The average in Ontario for the standardized survey is 55.1 per cent. That means less than one in three staff at the hospital expressed satisfaction with their work.

How PRHC expects to improve quality and efficiency when staff morale is so poor is an open question.

Denying front line workers their vacation while writing about yours is not what we would call good leadership. That’s the elephant in the room, and we saw the pictures of who was riding it.

* * *
Workers at Peterborough Regional Centre are picketing MPP Jeff Leal’s constituency office on September 6th at 4 pm. It’s the last chance to put pressure on the MPP to address quality issues at the hospital that have resulted from staff cuts and underfunding. On September 7 the provincial election officially begins. Please join us!


4 responses to “Peterborough Regional Health Centre and the elephant in the room

  1. Increasing nurses primary care assignment up to 75% for nurses on acute care medical units results in very poor quality and untimely care. This increase from a ratio of 4 patients per nurse on a day shift ,is now often 7 patients and when sick calls are not replaced, (which is happening on a very regular base) even more. For 90 minutes of the day a nurse is expected to care totally for an additional at least 6 patients and often more for a total of 12 to 14 patients per nurse. Please remember these are all patients that are sick or cognitively/physically/socially dysfunctional enough to be in hospital. The safe ratio of 4 patients per nurse has been established in order to ensure patients are able to receive total assistance with reasonable hygiene, meals, medications on time, ensuring patient safety,transporting to and from diagnostic tests and therapy,reasonable time to explain and answer questions or concerns from patients/ families, home care coordinators,pharmacy,physical therapists,occupational therapists, respiratory therapists,doctors. This safer ratio, although a challenge, also allows the time required to process physicians orders, communicate with all other disciplines and most days allows time for the nurse to have a break. This recent change has put terribly stressful demands on nurses. Management/Administration continues to ignore literal cries for safety. Patients and family, without knowing the politics ,are feeling, seeing and accusing the nurses of neglectful care in all aspects. PRHC is aware that acts of misconduct must be happening. Nurses are governed by the College of Nurses of Ontario who protect the public. The College Of Nurses of Ontario DOES NOT govern labour issues,so when PRHC demands nurses to perform in an extremely compromised work environment that will increase the risk of safety to patients and an error occurs, it is only the nurse who is disciplined. The discipline can be mandatory education and or suspension of nursing registration causing job loss to the nurse. Recently I Asked the Director of Medicine,Heather Camrass ” What do you think is the most important aspect of patient care?” Her response, I quote,” I refuse to answer that question because I’m afraid no matter how I answer ,you will think I’m wrong” I’m appalled by the answer! There are really great answers to this question. PRHC claims and boasts how they ensure their patients receive high quality timely care! That would have been a good answer! The question was only posed in an effort to address serious desperate concerns of all the aforementioned. A leader and a nurse in the roll of Director at PRHC, Heather Camrass should be prepared to competently answer such a very simple question without fear! Imagine please… nurses are sickened and afraid of the conditions of care our precious people are receiving and losing our licenses and jobs.

  2. This is like having …a driving instructor who doesn’t know how to start the car or a football coach who’s never played football or a Tim Horton’s employee who doesn’t know what coffee is!How much does she earn and who is her boss?Her boss is probably pretty proud of how well she is representing PRHC and putting people that ask such unreasonable, unfair questions in their place.

  3. Pingback: La « transformation » se poursuit – 53 emplois supprimés à l’hôpital régional de PeterboroughLa « transformation » se poursuit – 53 emplois supprimés à l’hôpital régional de Peterborough | DiaBlogue

  4. Afraid to Identify

    The moral at the hospital is awful. Their staff turnover is huge and that is a big expense. I think I would go elsewhere if possible d/t the overworked, short staffed nurses. I don’t know how much more they can take. It also seems that a lot of RN positions are being replaced by RPN’s (no matter how they spin it, an RN position is gone and an RPN position opens up), eliminated or reduced to part-time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s