Squeaky Wheels: Are more Ontario hospital CEOs likely to publicly air their grievances?

It makes us wonder why so few hospital CEOs are willing to publicly go to bat for their institutions. It’s true that in the past public advocacy was not always met with great appreciation at Queen’s Park, which has the power to take over a hospital and deal with sticky problems in their own way. Joe De Mora’s time at the Kingston General Hospital certainly comes to mind.

With hospitals having experienced their first year of a base funding freeze, and with perhaps a second lurking in tomorrow’s provincial budget, CEOs are going to be under a lot of pressure by communities reluctant to give up health services – especially in tough economic times. With costs rising and increased demand on their doorstep, a freeze represents a significant real cut to hospitals. High profile job losses at Ontario hospitals are already part of the landscape. The question is, what will year two of this look like and who will stick their head out to say something?

While some CEOs are parroting the Queen’s Park line about restructuring, others are starting to get some traction on their issues.

Windsor Regional Hospital’s David Musyj is in the Windsor Star so often they should just give him a column. Musyj is far from reserved in his comments and is not afraid to advocate for his hospital. At the beginning of April Musyj was able to announce the hospital was adding 60 new beds. This was accomplished at a time when the Ministry appears to be more interested in eliminating beds than opening new ones. This is particularly remarkable given the new funding formula punishes hospitals in difficult economic areas that may be experiencing an out-migration. That includes Windsor.

South Bruce Grey Health Centre likely breathed a sigh of relief when Paul Rosebush succeeded to the CEO’s chair. The past problems at SBGHC have gotten considerable airing on this BLOG and in the local media. Rosebush recognized that the SBGHC was getting a raw deal with the new funding formula coming out of Queen’s Park. SBGHC is made up of four small rural hospitals scattered across Grey and Bruce Counties. Small hospitals were supposed to be exempt from the new provincial hospital funding formula, which relies considerably on volumes to determine how much a hospital is to receive. Rosebush argued that his four hospitals were being unfairly penalized for working together under one umbrella. While SBGHC looks like it will be able to balance its 2012-13 budget, the funding formula was likely to place the hospital corporation $700,000 in the hole by the end of this new fiscal year. Already securing moral support from the South West LHIN, yesterday Rosebush sent out a memo to staff telling them that the Assistant Deputy Minister has told him not proceed with any significant program or service reductions until the hospital hears back on his appeal. That is likely good news.

Is this a new Glasnost for hospital CEOs, or are Musyj and Rosebush the exception?

If tomorrow brings more bad news, others may wish to also become squeaky wheels around Queen’s Park.

Watch for our Diablogue health care analysis of the provincial budget late tomorrow afternoon.

One response to “Squeaky Wheels: Are more Ontario hospital CEOs likely to publicly air their grievances?

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