Briefs: Temporary LTC inspectors, LHIN documents, NHS interim CEO departs and more

Last June Health Minister Deb Matthews announced all 633 Ontario long-term care homes would receive a “comprehensive annual inspection” known more technically as a “resident quality inspection” (RQI). A deadline was established — all homes are to undergo an RQI by the end of 2014. It now appears to be unlikely the promise will be kept in full. Posting for new inspectors was swift, but there was an indication from the start that the government was less than forthright in its promise to add a complement of 100 new inspectors to fulfill the objective of an annual RQI. The initial posting called for “a minimum of 50” inspectors rather than 100. The positions would be filled over a period of 14 months after the closing date of the posting, meaning new inspectors could still be straggling in as late as this November. Worst still, recruitment became a challenge after the government decided that all these new positions would be 12 month temporary contracts. Who is going to leave existing permanent professional employment for a one-year job that may or may not be extended? The result has been a lengthy process and one where, we are told, many of these new inspectors had to be hired at the top of the wage grid to bring them in the door. While many new inspectors have finally been hired, there will be a lag until all can be trained to do RQIs and fully “understand, interpret and apply relevant legislation pertaining to Long Term Care homes to ensure compliance.” As of last June, with the present complement of about 80 inspectors — not all in the field — it had taken nearly three years to complete 123 RQIs on top of investigating more than 2,000 annual individual resident complaints. Given all these new inspectors are hired on temporary contracts, it makes us wonder about how “annual” such inspections will be or whether the government is paying a premium to play politics with the count of full-time permanent public sector jobs to appease the Tories?

Last week we raised questions around the inconsistency of access to documents at the Local Health Integration Networks. LHIN meetings are open to the public, but it can be at times frustrating to follow the discussion of these boards without advance or current access to the documents that inform that topic. While the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant and the North Simcoe Muskoka LHINs appear to have the worst public access to board documents, we noted that the survey published in the Welland Tribune was missing five of the 14 crown agencies. Last week we heard back almost immediately from the North East LHIN, which was among the best in granting access – providing relevant board documents five days prior to their board meetings. Late Monday afternoon (January 7) we sent out e-mails to the other four LHINs absent from the survey. On Sunday night we heard back from the Toronto Central LHIN, which posts a fairly comprehensive briefing note for the public before meetings. It also makes a paper package of materials available to members of the public who show up in person. Almost a week after asking the question, we have yet to hear from Central West, Mississauga Halton or the North West LHINs. Remarkably, our question was answered at 11:46 pm on a Sunday night by the Senior Director of Community Engagement and Corporate Affairs at Toronto Central LHIN, which makes us wonder what kind of pressures the LHINs are under to respond to questions from the public. Heck, it’s only the beginning of January and they are clearly burning the midnight oil.

Health Care Providers Against Poverty (HPAP) are holding a press conference at Queen’s Park tomorrow to join the growing number of groups that are calling for a $14 an hour minimum wage. HPAP points to the growing literature that concludes poverty is the biggest barrier to good health for Canadians. Speakers include St. Michael’s Hospital physician Dr. Gary Bloch and two representatives from Ontario Community Health Centres – Axelle Janczur, Executive Director of the Access Alliance Community Health Centre and Lorraine Telford, Manager of Clinical programs at LAMP Community Health Centre. A broad coalition of community groups is also calling on all Ontarians to participate in their day of action tomorrow. That includes sending an e-mail to Premier Kathleen Wynne and your local MPP. Click here for more information.

The Niagara Health System may have to hire another interim CEO before they get to their permanent choice. The hospital is re-examining its leadership structure and is expected to announce changes within the next few weeks before the departure of present interim CEO Dr. Sue Matthews. Matthews has been with the hospital in various leadership roles since 2009, including being named interim CEO early in 2011 upon the departure of Debbie Sevenpifer. Matthews is herself departing to become CEO of the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. Prior to coming to the NHS, Matthews had been the Vice-President and Chief of Practice at VON Canada.

Tomorrow we resume our series on the Local Health Integration Networks looking at the integration process.

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2 responses to “Briefs: Temporary LTC inspectors, LHIN documents, NHS interim CEO departs and more

  1. Hello,

    In this posting on LHIN documents you wrote that you had not heard back for the Northwest LHIN. I was wondering if you ever did hear back from them? We have found that they have a problem responding to our questions also.

    Thanks.

    Jules Tupker Co-Chair Thunder Bay Health Coalition

  2. Hey Jules — Nice to hear from you. Yes, we finally did hear back from them. While the e-mail we sent was directly addressed to the NW LHIN, unfortunately in the subject line it still said NE LHIN. So their explanation on the long delay is that likely someone at the LHIN just read the subject line and deleted it. Hmmm.Bit of a hair trigger response, no? Will post shortly comparing all 14, but NW LHIN does not compare well to some of the other LHINs in the province around board disclosure.

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