The peer review is done, but the details around the 6 per cent in cuts to the Perth and Smiths Falls District Hospital are still somewhat sketchy. The cuts are to deal with a $2.6 million operating deficit at the hospital.
Among the many cuts will be closure of 12 beds at the hospital.
The unions that represent employees at the hospital have been given some idea of the impact after receiving notice of layoffs and reductions in hours. For OPSEU, the biggest reduction is in physiotherapy – the equivalent of more than three full-time positions is being lost. In addition OPSEU is losing one full-time professional in diagnostic imaging and scaling back hours for a dietitian, health records and a staff member assigned to assist victims of sexual assault and violence.
Other positions that are either being lost or reduced include nurses in the operating room, obstetrics, emergency room, and on the medical/surgical floor. Community members will find it more difficult to get through to the hospital switchboard, with hours scaled back, along with other impacts on purchasing, housekeeping, food services, rehab, patient registration, discharge and finance.
The cuts follow a broken promise to allow staff a chance to meet with peer reviewer Rob Devitt (CEO of Toronto East General Hospital) and have input into the plan.
Whereas peer reviews are usually treated as public documents, this one appears to be missing in action. The hospital did issue a press release at the beginning of the month stating the peer review was complete and that the plan will make the organization “more efficient and balance our budget while preserving its core services.” However, the actual peer review appears to be neither on the hospital website nor that of the SE LHIN.
We’re not sure how cutting these positions are “preserving” core services when they speak to all facets of the hospital’s care delivery. What wasn’t touched?
With the exception of rehab, it appears every department has given up a little, which means every department will likely be impacted. In rehab the cuts appear to be very significant, leaving resident with fewer options around publicly-provided service.
Cuts to publicly-funded rehab have been one of the themes running through the latest hospital cuts across the province. In this region, the Ottawa Hospital recently shed two physiotherapist positions and cuts have impacted rehab services at Quinte Health Care too.
Earlier this year we reported how CEO Todd Stepniuk had stepped down a few weeks after the hospital board rejected the deficit reduction plan put forward by senior staff.
There clearly is another in place. The hospital owes the community an explanation on how these cuts will impact services at the hospital, including wait times, access, and public safety.