John Wright, The Scarborough Hospital’s (TSH) former CEO once proudly told staff that they were among the first in Canada to have a Vice-President of Patient Experience. While there is much rhetoric around patient-centered care, it appears the Scarborough Hospital was at least trying to walk the talk.
TSH may have been among the first in Ontario to establish such a position. It is also among the first to eliminate such a position.
One of the first projects that VP undertook was a revamping of the food served to patients at the hospital. As we reported last week, the TSH had engaged a consulting chef and invested in equipment to be able to serve patients fresh local foods. Now that project, like the former VP who spawned it, appears to be on the way out according to a discussion paper generated by a merger committee between the TSH and Rouge Valley Health System.
We get it that money is tight.
The two hospitals admit that together they need to find $28 million next year to weather an ongoing freeze in base funding to hospitals. This is not a one-time event, but a long road of deliberate fiscal restraint. The amount needed could be even higher should the two hospitals decide to make a recommendation to formally merge. Mergers generally do not save money. They cost more.
TSH has gone through recent community battles over potential changes to services. It is one of the reason merger discussions are leaving out any issues around location of service delivery, however, that “elephant in the room” is getting increasingly difficult to avoid as working committees try to determine what a merged or “integrated” hospital might look like.
The demographics around such a merger are particularly sensitive. It is one of the most diverse multicultural areas in the GTA. It is where many new immigrants first arrive – the 2006 Census indicated 57 per cent of the area’s residents were born in another country. Poverty in Toronto is also moving east. Eight of 13 priority Toronto neighborhoods identified by the United Way are in Scarborough.