Tag Archives: Independent Health Facilities

Tonight: Medical Reform Group roundtable to examine controversial policy

The government’s decision to have hospitals compete with independent health facilities for the right to deliver services ranging from cataracts to colonoscopies is among the most controversial ideas to emerge recently from the Wynne government.

The Ontario Health Coalition recently completed a campaign that gathered more than 56,000 postcards expressing opposition to the plan.

Doctors in rural communities are worried that losing these services could endanger local hospitals.

Yesterday doctors in Midland said removing cataract surgeries from the Georgian Bay General Hospital and contracting it to a private clinic in Barrie or elsewhere could mean the end of opthamology services in the area.

“Removing cataract procedures from our small hospital would impact allied services,” writes Dr. Martin McNamara, the hospital’s chief of staff, in a recent public letter to the LHIN.

Doctors fear that this could be the beginning of the stripping of local services that could result in the demise of the hospital.

Is it possible to be in favour of a more robust community sector without threatening the stability and scope of services at Ontario’s hospitals? Or do community-based services have to inevitably come from Ontario’s already struggling hospital sector?

Wednesday night (April 9) the Medical Reform Group is hosting a panel discussion in Toronto on whether community-based specialty clinics can deliver better outcomes for patients, providers or the health system as a whole.

Moderated by Dr. Ahmed Bayoumi, the panel includes Dr. John Lavis, Director-McMaster Health Forum; Dr. Danielle Martin, VP Medical Affairs, Women’s College Hospital; and Natalie Mehra, Director of the Ontario Health Coalition.

Dr. Danielle Martin.

Dr. Danielle Martin.

While a regular meeting of the Medical Reform Group, others are welcome to attend this free event. To do so, please RSVP to medicalreform@sympatico.ca or call 416-787-5246. Space is limited.

The Medical Reform Group is a voluntary organization of physicians, residents, and medical students committed to universal high quality health care for all Canadians.

The panel discussion takes place Wednesday, April 9 between 7-9 pm at OPSEU’s Wellesley Membership Centre (lower level), 31 Wellesley Street East (across from the Wellesley subway station). Please be on time — doors will lock after panel begins.

Cream skimming by private clinics only makes situation worse for Ontario’s hospitals

There is no question that hospitals are struggling these days. This is the second year of a base funding freeze that effectively translates into a real cut of three per cent or more each year. Many hospitals also have to contend with the impact of a funding formula that appears to reward hospitals in wealthier urban areas and penalize those in regions where the economy is struggling. Now Health Minister Deb Matthews has introduced a new regulation that would effectively allow private for-profit independent health facilities to “cream skim” services from the hospitals. Cream skimming is where for-profit entities are allowed to take over fee-based services hospitals rely upon.

We’ve seen examples of this in the past. When the province ended a 10-year program by a handful of small rural hospitals to do community lab work, every single hospital in the program told the province’s consultants that community lab work helped to make the hospitals labs more efficient and supplied the additional revenue needed to extend hours and purchase new equipment. The province didn’t care that the same consultants told them the private for-profit labs were doing this testing at a considerably higher cost to the provincial budget.

The effect of such cream skimming will only make hospitals less efficient and compound existing financial problems.

Matthews has always insisted the transfer of services from hospital would be to not-for-profit entities, frequently mentioning the Kensington Eye Clinic as her prime example.

However, we have seen repeatedly that this is not the case.

Continue reading

Regulatory changes suggests hospitals soon to divest outpatient procedures

In the dead of summer the province gave notice that it intends to bring the independent health facilities (IHFs) under the Local Health Integration Networks.

The change in regulation states their intention to shift “low-risk ambulatory services from a hospital to a community-based setting.” Oddly, that “setting” could simply be a satellite facility run by an existing hospital.

Previously the LHINs were not able to formally transition services from hospital to the IHFs because there was no way to transfer funding outside the LHIN’s jurisdiction. Funding for the IHFs had previously been handled directly by the Ministry.

This change could, for example, give the Champlain LHIN the opportunity to formally transfer funding from The Ottawa Hospital to private clinics to perform the endoscopies hospital CEO Jack Kitz no longer wanted. That will likely not help the hospital’s bottom line.

Continue reading

Auditor’s Report — Warning flags about diagnostic self referrals

Today’s release by the Ontario Health Coalition regarding the 2012 report by the Auditor General of Ontario: 

Toronto – The Ontario Auditor General’s report released today raises warning flags about inadequate access to care and the perils of for-profit privatization.

The Auditor General found wait times for long-term care that are extraordinary. Crisis clients are waiting more than three months for placement and wait times have tripled. The provincial Ministry of Health response did not mention the lack of long-term care beds, only its plans to download patients into home and community care where funding per client is lower than it was a decade ago.

In Ontario’s privatized clinics (Independent Health Facilities) the Auditor found inadequate monitoring, poor inspections, a lack of financial oversight and inequitable access to care. This is of significant concern as the government is moving more and more services out of hospitals into privatized clinics.

 Among the Auditor General’s key findings:

  • Waits for mammography are up to ten and a half months in some areas of Ontario (page 47) but mammography screening, particularly in smaller hospitals has been closed down and centralized out-of-town.
  • Almost one-third of patients who require follow-up colonoscopies are not receiving them within prescribed wait times, and wait times remain too long.
  • Wait times for long-term care placements have tripled since 2004, with median wait times at 98 days in 2011/12 (page 186). In March 2012 people in crisis waiting for long-term care placements had waited a median of 94 days up to that point; moderate-needs clients had waited 10–14 months; and most other eligible clients had been on the wait list “for years”. Further, during the 2011/12 fiscal year, 15% of clients died before receiving LTC home accommodation (page 187).

Continue reading