Lou Rinaldi must be stewing over Biron’s appointment as TSH CEO

Nobody can say Robert Biron didn’t know what he was getting into.

The former CEO of Cobourg’s Northumberland Hills Hospital has come to the big city, the next in line to take on the seemingly impossible task of fixing The Scarborough Hospital.

The good news is, unlike many of his counterparts at other hospitals, Biron will release the full details of $18 million in financial measures the hospital plans to implement to balance the budget.

The bad news is The Scarborough Hospital is still facing $18 million in cuts and fee hikes.

Biron is suggesting that there might yet be some flexibility in how the hospital tackles its deficit, telling The Toronto Star that “my first priority as we move forward is to reach out to these key stakeholders and hear about their concerns and suggestions about how we might move forward together to redefine health care delivery in Scarborough.”

The Central East LHIN should give Biron a little wiggle room having arrived in what appears to be the late stages of this process.

Biron told the Star that he wants to notify staff before the details of the 182 budget measures are made fully public.

Some of those details are already known. The cuts are spread out, from the loss of administrative positions to reductions in diagnostic imaging and surgical beds. More controversial will be the cut of five stretchers in the emergency department or consolidation of paediatric surgery to three days per week.

The larger strokes are likely not yet known – even to Biron. The Central East LHIN has ordered TSH to meet with Rouge Valley to work out how the two hospitals can work together in addressing the health needs of Scarborough residents.

That will open the door to more public consultation. The hospital must be particularly aware that there is now heightened community interest in what the future brings. TSH previously came under fire over its poorly attended consultations, especially when a residents group took the reins and packed its own organized forum while only journalists showed up at some of TSH’s events.

Biron may want to lose some of his rhetoric suggesting this is all about restructuring. He has a long list of Ontario hospital CEOs that have gone before him promising restructuring and delivering what are obviously cuts to service. Most of these services will not end up in the community, no more than Biron replaced the full slate of services he cut upon arrival at Northumberland Hills Hospital late in 2008.

The irony is that while community upset over Biron’s Cobourg hospital cuts likely contributed to the narrow electoral defeat of Liberal MPP Lou Rinaldi in 2011, it is Biron that has ended up with the big promotion.

Lou Rinaldi must be stewing.

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