Tag Archives: The Ottawa Hospital

Ottawa and Hamilton: Significant hospital cuts ahead despite rhetoric from Premier-designate

Dr. Jack Kitts, CEO of the Ottawa Hospital, says he plans to transfer about 5,000 endoscopies to community hospitals and clinics as part of an overall plan to find $31 million in savings towards balancing the hospital’s budget.

Kitts announced last week that 290 full-time equivalent positions would be eliminated at the hospital, including 90 positions in nursing, 100 in administration and support services, and a further 100 “other” health professionals. There is no word whether any senior managers will have to fall on their sword.

The impetus for the cuts are clear – The Ottawa Hospital is facing the long-term prospect of zero per cent annual change in the base funding while costs continue to rise with a growing and aging population. It has little to do with restructuring.

Divesting 5,000 endoscopies may save the Ottawa Hospital money, but it won’t necessarily save the provincial health budget as these costs get borne elsewhere. Then there’s the matter of The Ottawa Hospital facing direct costs related to severing employees. Kitts says it’s cheaper to do these endoscopies elsewhere, but he gives no evidence to back up his claims.

Calculating the human cost of such actions is always much more difficult. The Ottawa Hospital was subject to a major study in 2009 on role overload, suggesting workers at the hospital were already facing anxiety, fatigue, and burnout as a result of having to do too much with too little. For those left behind, the fear of having their workload become totally unmanageable is very real, raising questions about how safe the hospital will really be.

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Visible tattoos and piercings on hospital staff okay — arbitrator

The Ottawa Hospital was attempting to fix a problem that didn’t exist when it unilaterally imposed a new dress code on employees according to a recent arbitration decision.

Most contentious was a requirement that workers at the hospital cover up large tattoos as well as prohibiting “visible, excessive body piercings.”

The Ottawa Hospital also stopped certain workers from wearing jeans and Bermuda shorts and insisted nurses wear lab coats in the hospital while off duty.

All of these restrictions were struck down in the January 14th decision following a 2010 policy grievance by CUPE Local 4000.

Arbitrator Lorne Slotnick stated in his ruling: “the employer’s argument is explicitly based on its willingness to accept and acquiesce to patients’ perceived prejudices and stereotypes about tattoos and piercings, even as it offers no evidence that these have any impact on health outcomes… The hospital could not and would not accede to the wishes of a patient who might be uncomfortable with a care provider based on the employee’s race or ethnic identity, even though some patients might harbour those types of prejudices.”

Slotnick said that no patient was being forced to “accept” tattoos, but instead were receiving care from many individuals who reflected the diversity expected in a big city.

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Are there more managers and fewer front line staff? At some hospitals, absolutely

Earlier this year we issued a freedom of information request to 20 sample hospitals where OPSEU represents health care workers to understand whether managers are in fact replacing front line health care workers.

Nine of 20 hospitals reported an increase in managers proportionate to front line staff over the past five years.

It’s a frequent complaint we hear.

While the requests were sent out in February, the information took much of the year to trickle in.

Resources are getting ever tighter in the hospital world – Ontario hospitals are experiencing no increase in their base budgets this year. How hospitals allocate their funding does matter.

Some hospitals actually reduced managers – at Kingston General Hospital, for example, managers dropped from 146 in 2008 to 125 in 2012. Staff has remained almost exactly the same over the past five years at 2,453. Other hospitals that dropped managers include the Chatham Kent Health Alliance, South Grey Bruce Health Care and the Windsor Regional Hospital.

Others show that our members were right.

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Freedom of Information: $1637.76 to access info from 20 hospitals

Now that hospitals are subject to Freedom of Information requests, how accessible will this information really be? It all depends on the hospital and how much money you have.

It cost us $1,637.76 to find out what the ratio of staff to management was at 20 hospital corporations. That includes the $5 processing fee it takes to initiate the request.

Hospitals came under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act on January 1st of this year, although the Ontario Hospital Association sought and received additional exemption from divulging quality information under specific circumstances.

For years we have heard front line staff complain that their numbers have dwindled while the ranks of management have increased. We decided to test that question with requests to 20 randomly selected hospitals where OPSEU represents members. This includes four mental health centres – Penetanguishene’s Waypoint Centre, Whitby’s Ontario Shores, London’s St. Joseph’s Health Centre (Regional Mental Health), and the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group.

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Why is the OHA not standing up for hospitals?

You have to wonder about the Ontario Hospital Association and its publicly stated views of the Drummond Commission report.

Upon the release of the report, the OHA publicly welcomed it despite what the Dean of Queen’s University’s Faculty of Medicine refers to as the report’s “anti-hospital sentiment.”

“Overall, the OHA and its member hospitals welcome the perspective that Mr. Drummond brings to the broader public sector and intend to review the report and its recommendations carefully,” the OHA stated in a February 15 release.

That was the last OHA release, on Drummond or anything else.

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