The Niagara Health System’s supervisor has commissioned a poll on his interim recommendations for the struggling multi-site hospital.
If anything, the poll confirmed why Kevin Smith had been appointed by the province.
Pollara conducted a telephone survey in June of at least 75 adult residents in each of the 12 communities served by the hospital.
The overall impression rating was 4.5 out of 10 – far below the usual 90 per cent plus approval rating of most Ontario hospitals. 13 per cent described their impression as “very negative.” The worst scores came from Fort Erie and Port Colborne, two communities that have already lost their hospital emergency departments.
The hospital scored badly on such questions as whether it was meeting the health needs of the community, the ease and speed of access, and the quality of hospital administration. Scores were much better for the performance of clinical staff, such as doctors and nurses. No questions referred to the quality of other health professionals, such as physiotherapists or lab technologists.
While Smith is recommending a second new mega hospital for the southern part of the Niagara Peninsula, most were opposed to the closure of sites in Port Colborne, Fort Erie, Niagara Falls and Welland. This contradicts the polls other finding of widespread support for a new centralized hospital. It also contradicts residents who say they would be willing to drive further for quality care.
If Smith thought he was having a positive effect, that impression was not reflected in the poll. Over half said their impressions have stayed the same, 23 per cent said the NHS has gotten worse under the supervisor, and 12 per cent said it had improved. 48 per cent said the NHS was headed in the wrong direction, compared to 43 per cent who said it was headed in the right direction under Smith’s supervision.
The community’s perception of the hospital’s poor performance also reflects on their willingness to donate to the hospital. 71 per cent said they are not likely to donate.
Determining a location for a South Niagara Hospital, Smith may want to look closely at the question about how residents get to the hospital. Residents in high income brackets were more likely to drive themselves (76%) compared to lower-income households (41%). Lower income households were far more likely to use an ambulance (22%) compared to high income households (5%).
Smith’s final recommendations for the Niagara Health System are expected in mid-July.