Tag Archives: Arnprior and District Hospital

Briefs: TSH looking for $6.8 million in savings, Arnprior petition and more

The Rouge Valley Health System and The Scarborough Hospital officially filed notification to the Local Health Integration Network of their intent to merge, but it doesn’t mean hard times are over. Robert Biron, CEO of The Scarborough Hospital, sent a memo to staff Tuesday that reminded everyone that the health service provider still has a budget to balance. Biron estimates cost pressures of $8.4 million for 2014-15. The hospital has projected revenue increases of $1.6 million, but it still leaves them $6.8 million short. That shortfall represents about two per cent of TSH’s annual budget. Biron says it is the intention of the hospital to “minimize the impact” to services and staff positions where possible, however the memo gives notice that voluntary exit and early retirement packages will be offered soon. No specific cuts were identified in the memo. The TSH board will receive the budget plan on March 4th. Despite the formal notification to the LHIN, the hospitals will not make a final decision to merge for another 60 to 90 days.

In December we reported on a local fight-back campaign by the unionized staff (CUPE, OPSEU and ONA) at the Arnprior and District Memorial Hospital. The professional and support staff at the hospital are upset by the loss of six acute care beds at a time when the region’s population is rapidly expanding. Now our colleagues at CUPE have posted an on-line Avaaz petition for community members to sign that calls on the hospital to reopen the beds and staff them properly. If you’d like to add your name to the Avaaz petition, click here.

The Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons has raised an interesting point around the province’s plan to shift endoscopies from hospitals to private Independent Health Facilities (IHFs). The College notes that IHFs are presently exempt from the Out of Hospital Premises Inspection Program (OHPIP) it conducts. Up until now endoscopy clinics have been considered community speciality clinics, not IHFs. In the most recent issue of the College’s Dialogue Newsletter, they state “the OHPIP model functions more efficiently and quickly to protect patients than the IHF model.” Despite the shift in status, the College is proposing to continue doing OHPIP inspections at these facilities. In 2011 the College warned that a private Ottawa endoscopy clinic failed to properly sterilize equipment and placed patients at risk of HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. The College also found that the clinic’s nurse was preoccupied with advancing the scope and not recording vital signs, that potential exposure to toxic fumes took place, single-use items were being re-used, and that cramped and cluttered premises posed a hazard by making it difficult to transfer a patient in the event of an emergency. Endoscopies and cataract surgery are at the top of the province’s list for divestment from community hospitals.

The more Ontarians understand the threat by PC leader Tim Hudak to end the Rand Formula, the less they like the Tories. While Forum Research president Dr. Lorne Bozinoff told the Toronto Star the anti-union policies are not seen as a massive wedge issue, “there’s some uneasiness that they’ve (PCs) just gone too far to the right.” The Forum Research Poll shows the Tories dropping in public opinion in tandem with declining disapproval of the Rand Formula. Those opposed to the Rand Formula dropped from 45 per cent to 38 per cent from November to January. Likely Ontarians are coming to understand that by undermining the province’s trade unions all labour rights are threatened – both union and non-union. The Forum Research polls still places the Tories in the lead at 36 per cent followed closely by the Liberals at 33 per cent and the NDP at 26 per cent. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne share 40 per cent personal approval ratings while Hudak continues to lag behind with 21 per cent. In a press release issued yesterday, Bozinoff said “it appears Tim Hudak’s signature idea, ending compulsory union dues, is not a winner in Ontario, even among supporters of his own party.” The random sampling of public opinion was conducted among 1222 Ontarians 18 years of age and older between January 24-25.

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Arnprior rally to oppose ongoing cuts to rural hospital

Arnprior is an Ottawa Valley community 66 kilometres north of the nation’s capital. The town is built around the mouth of the Madawaska River and has a population of more than 8,000 residents. The communities around Ottawa, including Arnprior, are seeing significant growth as the urban center extends further into the rural regions around it.

Like many smaller communities it has seen pressures to reduce local health services and force residents to travel to the city to seek health care.

It appears the province’s idea of the right care at the right time in the right place is seldom in a rural community. It has led to significant fight-back campaigns across the province – many of them successful.

The Arnprior and District Memorial Hospital’s health care professionals and support staff are hoping their community will be among those successes. They are calling on the community to join them in opposing the cuts as they march tomorrow morning (Tuesday, December 10) at 11:30 am from Hydro Park to the hospital.

Over the summer six acute care beds were closed at the hospital – not an unusual seasonal occurrence despite the northward migration of cottagers at that time of year. Usually the beds are restored in the winter, but not this year.

Residents fear that their emergency room will back up without the available beds.

Along with the bed closures the hospital is also reducing numerous professional supports. Fresh cuts include physiotherapy and diagnostic imaging services. The hospital also cut all of its personal support workers.

The problem with this emptying of health service capacity in the rural communities is that patients are ending up in big city hospitals that are also under stress.

Earlier this year The Ottawa Hospital announced job losses amounting to 290 full-time equivalent positions.

All hospitals are in the second year of a base funding freeze that is expected to last until 2018. Despite the claims by the province that it is not cutting health care, the reality of a funding freeze is that hospitals are losing considerable ground each year – some CEOs have told us the impact is somewhere between three and five per cent annually.

The province insists that the freeze is intended to facilitate health care transformation to community-based care, but that reinvestment often appears to be grossly insufficient to get the job done. Community-based care can also be expensive – especially for privately-run diagnostic services. It can also have much more limited hours and attach unpopular user fees to these services.