Tag Archives: Ken Tremblay

More “transformation” — 53 jobs cut at Peterborough Regional

Peterborough’s regional hospital  is losing more staff positions.

The good news is the hospital administration isn’t at least pretending these new cuts are about “transformation” of the health system as the Health Minister and Premier have repeatedly claimed elsewhere.

The government’s ongoing funding freeze to base hospital budgets means 53 more positions are being eliminated in Peterborough, many of these already vacant positions. In 2010 Peterborough eliminated close to 300 full-time equivalent positions to deal with a mounting deficit and meet its accountability obligations to the Local Health Integration Network.

The Peterborough Regional Health Centre’s board chair told the Peterborough Examiner “when you are getting 0% increases and you have to absorb inflation and other cost increases plus pay off our debt, it’s getting tougher every year.”

In his pre-election report in 2011, the Auditor General of Ontario described the government’s decision to limit health care funding increases to 3.6 per cent as “aggressive,” suggesting it would lead to a choice between hospital deficits and cuts to services. A 3.6 per cent increase now seems like the Halcyon days in this province, overall health care budget increases now limited to 2 per cent. None of that 2 per cent is applied to hospital base budgets, the government instead maintaining the fiction that it is being instead reallocated in the community as part of that “transformation.”

Continue reading

Hospitals: Let’s get the cuts out in the open

When faced with underfunding, should hospital CEOs make clear the consequences, or should they quietly find ways to cut services that may be less noticeable to the public?

For the first time since the Harris government, the McGuinty government has frozen base funding for hospitals. In addition it has introduced a new funding formula that is having negative repercussions for some.

We have always argued that having a funding formula makes sense, but such a formula should be grandfathered in so that hospitals on the losing end of the equation are not adversely affected. There are also questions about whether the formula itself is fair, some arguing that existing patterns of use are partly determined by where existing services are, as opposed to where services should be.

The net result of these changes in funding is hospitals are faced with particularly difficult choices this year.

Many choose to quietly go about their chopping, limiting input to board and management. Others talk publicly about consequences leaving the broader community an opening to debate what should take place.

The latest to talk about consequences is David Musyj, CEO of the Windsor Regional Hospital. Last week Musyj warned of possible layoffs and cuts to services, such as endoscopy and ultrasound – both he says are offered at private clinics in his community.

Continue reading

Peterborough Regional Health Centre and the elephant in the room

Peterborough Regional Health Centre CEO Ken Tremblay certainly tries hard to fit in with his community. The reality is he was sent in to do a job – downsize an active regional hospital in order to tame a budget deficit. That doesn’t always make you the most popular guy in town.

Ken Tremblay also writes a BLOG which is posted on the hospital’s web site. The BLOG contains entries about health care, restructuring and the importance of hand washing. It also features some folksy bits and pieces about Ken, including a picture of his dog Charlie.

Recently Ken posted about his “staycation” this summer in which he spoke about doing some odd jobs around the house, playing a little golf, and doing some recreational reading. Last year he even included pictures of himself atop an elephant as he described his vacation in Thailand.

Nobody begrudges Ken his vacation. As for the little personal anecdotes, it’s nice to know who your boss is.

However, the situation for workers back at the hospital has not exactly been rosy under Tremblay. While the CEO tells us about his splendid vacations, back at PRHC workers are being denied their summer vacations due to staff shortages.

With 250 to 300 fewer staff at PRHC, the hospital is having difficulty filling shifts and maintaining service. The performance dashboard the hospital posts on its web site is full of red and yellow boxes indicating the hospital is not meeting quality targets. Under Tremblay’s watch, for example, the PRHC went from having a better than average standardized hospital mortality ratio to a much worse one. While earlier this year Tremblay boasted to the Local Health Integration Network that the hospital was ahead of its target to reduce overtime, the reality is there is much anticipation that the overtime numbers will be more than just “creeping up” over the summer.

Further, workers tell us that the hospital is also doing more contracting out to replace the work of the people they let go, calling into question whether these layoffs will really lead to permanent savings.

Hospitals use something called the “NRC Picker” to survey staff satisfaction. While staff tell us they were surveyed over the winter/spring, the posted numbers are much older — from September 2010. We have to wonder why.

A year ago Peterborough scored 29.9 per cent on staff engagement and satisfaction. The average in Ontario for the standardized survey is 55.1 per cent. That means less than one in three staff at the hospital expressed satisfaction with their work.

How PRHC expects to improve quality and efficiency when staff morale is so poor is an open question.

Denying front line workers their vacation while writing about yours is not what we would call good leadership. That’s the elephant in the room, and we saw the pictures of who was riding it.

* * *
Workers at Peterborough Regional Centre are picketing MPP Jeff Leal’s constituency office on September 6th at 4 pm. It’s the last chance to put pressure on the MPP to address quality issues at the hospital that have resulted from staff cuts and underfunding. On September 7 the provincial election officially begins. Please join us!