Code Blue in Ottawa: Marlene Rivier chairs a panel including (R-L) Maude Barlow (Council of Canadians), Mike McBane (Canadian Health Coalition) and Natalie Mehra (Ontario Health Coalition).
OTTAWA – Natalie Mehra says The Ontario Health Coalition is drawing a line in the sand when it comes to service transfers to private endoscopy clinics from The Ottawa Hospital.
Speaking at a “Code Blue” forum in Ottawa last night, the director of the coalition said the privatization of these hospital services were “unprecedented,” part of a series of changes that had become “divorced” from planning around patient need in the Ottawa region.
Mehra raised questions about the capacity of these private clinics to absorb 4,000 endoscopies, particularly when they were likely to lengthen wait lists.
Given endoscopies are going to be individually funded by the Local Health Integration Networks this year, funding normally allocated to the hospital for these procedures cannot flow from the LHIN to the private clinics given such clinics are outside the scope of the LHIN.
The transfer of endoscopies to private for-profit clinics also is in direct contradiction of the Ontario Health Minister’s commitment to transfer services to not-for-profit providers in the community.
Mehra also debunked the myth that the cuts to hospital services were merely part of a new reorganization of health care, noting the lack of funding support from Queen’s Park to home care over the last decade. Even with the recent funding increases, per patient funding is lower today than it was before the McGuinty Liberals took power in 2003.
In the past few weeks we have been challenging the Champlain Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) to step up to the plate around cuts and transfers of services from The Ottawa Hospital.
Champlain LHIN CEO Chantale LeClerc has dug herself in for the fight, insisting that considerable changes to health service delivery in her region do not warrant an integration decision nor any additional public consultation.
Curiously, in her most recent letters to both OPSEU and the Ontario Health Coalition, she has suggested that regional volumes of endoscopies have not yet been decided and that the LHIN has no mechanism to transfer them outside of a hospital environment (LHINs have no jurisdiction over private clinics performing public OHIP work).
The Ottawa Hospital CEO Jack Kitts is publicly stating the hospital will perform 4,000 fewer endoscopies per year (initially it was 5,000 fewer) and that it was his expectation that these volumes would be picked up by independent community-based clinics and other regional hospitals.
Clearly the hospital CEO and the LHIN CEO are not on the same page even though the LHIN is telling us the hospital is merely following its accountability agreement.
Endoscopies will be coming under what are called “Quality Based Procedures” for the coming year. These QBP get funded separately from hospital global budgets. That means if The Ottawa Hospital decides to stop doing 4,000 endoscopies, it also stops getting funding for them. Unless TOH is losing money on these procedures, it doesn’t suggest that such cuts will do anything to aid their bottom line – the whole point of this “restructuring.” Until we know where these procedures are migrating to (if anywhere), we have no idea whether the region will be saving any money or whether the public will be maintaining access.