Tag Archives: Windsor Hotel Dieu

Stories we couldn’t let pass by this week

CCACs hire 144 direct care nurses

This month the government announced 900 new nursing positions to come from their 2007 commitment to 9,000 new nurses for the health system. Among them are 144 nurses who will go into the schools to support early identification and intervention of students with potential mental health and/or addictions issues. The nurses will assess and develop plans of care, provide direct service for mild cases, and offer support and referral for more complex issues. What’s particularly interesting about this initiative is these nurses will be working directly for the Community Care Access Centres, the first new hires to provide direct care since Bob Rae was in the Premier’s seat. When Mike Harris changed the NDP’s multi-service agencies into the CCACs, he insisted that a strict purchaser-provider split exist, hoping to divest all direct care workers to private agencies. He never entirely succeeded – OPSEU still represents CCAC home care therapists that were supposed to be divested by 1998. The fact that the government has placed these nurses into the employ of the CCAC is a hopeful sign that the terrible Harris-era competitive bidding process may quietly be coming to an end. While Deb Matthews publicly said competitive bidding would return, OPSEU members are telling us the agency contracts are all being extended again.

Merging surgical departments in Windsor

A zero base budget for hospitals is forcing many administrators to look at novel ways to make ends meet. In Windsor much has been made about Finance Minister Dwight Duncan’s proposal for a very expensive mega-hospital, however, the two hospitals are looking at integration options that might save money in the meantime. Windsor Hotel Dieu is pushing for greater coordination of surgical departments with the Windsor Regional Hospital. Facing a $700,000 operating room budget deficit, Dieu is hoping costs could be saved by having the two hospitals move into even greater specialization than currently exists. Dieu presently specializes in trauma and neurosurgery while WRH does most of the pediatric surgeries. WRH CEO David Musyj told the Windsor Star he was cautious — concerned that Hotel Dieu’s financial problems could put more pressure on his 11 operating rooms.

Harper attacks Council of Canadians

Our friends at the Council of Canadians are under attack by the Harper government for encouraging Canadians to overturn elections of seven Tories elected in ridings involved in the so-called robocall scandal. According to the Ottawa Citizen, the Federal Tories hope to overturn lawsuits that seek new elections in the ridings. The Tories are basing their bid to throw out the lawsuits on an obscure and ancient legal prohibition against “champerty and maintenance,” which the Citizen describes as “meddling in another party’s lawsuit to share in the proceeds.” While the Council of Canadians would not stand to gain anything monetarily from the actions, the Tories highlight a Council fundraising campaign that notes the challenge among its work. Of course the Tories have no problems with right-wing organizations, many with American funding, helping to litigate against such left-wing institutions as Medicare. That includes the Canadian Constitution Foundation, an extreme right-wing group based in Alberta that supported Lindsay McCreith and Shona Holmes in their 2007 case intended to open up Ontario to two-tier private health insurance. While the CCF doesn’t say where their money comes from, they do specifically note on their website that they have charitable status with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Like the Council of Canadians, the CCF lists its McCreith/Holmes case as among the worthy activities it undertakes to solicit donations.

Musyj calls for hospital mergers despite lack of supporting evidence

Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj is suggesting the best way to bend the health care cost curve is to amalgamate his hospital with Windsor Hotel Dieu Hospital.

As usual, Musyj lacks any evidence to support his suggestion, made before an audience of Rotarians in that city.

He may instead want to look at the independent Canadian Health Services Research Foundation web site, which says there is no evidence that such mergers save money.

“While the intuitive appeal of ‘bigger is better’ in hospital mergers is powerful, it’s clear the empirical evidence is weak and the potential for negative outcomes significant,” the Research Foundation states.

The Foundation warns that mergers are particularly difficult on staff morale, which has a direct impact on the quality of patient care.

They also note that mergers can disrupt services and absorb more management attention during a transition period, also affecting patient care.

The Windsor Star notes that the merger may be a tough sell given the last such merger cost the region two hospital sites and beds.

When mergers do occur, senior management usually go cap in hand to their boards, asking for more compensation to deal with the greater responsibility they now face.

Other money saving ideas Musyj gave the Rotarians include cuts to outpatient services and charging patients a fee for emergency room visits – the latter a clear violation of the Canada Health Act.

Musyj said Ontario needed a Royal Commission to look at the way the province delivers health services.

He also defended the LHINs, suggesting moving administrative offices to London or Toronto would not be in the best interests of his community.

Election focuses the mind — and the pace of MOHLTC’s announcements

There’s nothing like an election to focus the mind on many long-standing complaints, especially if you are the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MOHLTC).

While many have been soaking up the sun this summer, the Ministry has been pushing out one announcement after another, bringing hospital expansions, new MRIs and even nurse-practitioner clinics to a town near you.

This week Health Minister Deb Matthews finally appointed a supervisor to investigate community complaints around the Niagara Health System – something Matthews admits has been on her radar since day one.

Similarly, August 5th the troubled Windsor Hotel Dieu hospital received $5 million in new money to hire nurses, add more administrative after-hours support, purchase new equipment and refurbish rooms. Former CEO Ken Deane was appointed supervisor in January.

At the end of July the Ministry announced a major redevelopment and expansion of the Cambridge Memorial Hospital. That will include an expansion of their ER to accommodate an additional 10,000 patient visits per year, a redevelopment of the mental health unit, 33 new medical/surgical beds, five new intensive care beds, two new maternal beds and four additional paediatric beds.

Brockville General will also get a similar major expansion. A new wing will include 48 complex continuing care beds, 29 rehabilitation beds and 29 acute mental health beds.

Hawkesbury and District General Hospital will also get a major expansion, although tenders won’t actually happen until 2013/14. Good thing we know about it now, just before the election.

A more modest expansion will also happen at Winchester District Memorial Hospital.

This summer it was also announced Barrie’s Royal Victoria Hospital will get a new MRI, as will Oakville’s Halton Health Care Services. Vaughan was reminded that they will get a totally new hospital aligned with nearby York Central. Peterborough will get a new nurse-practitioner-led clinic. Infrastructure upgrades will happen at Ross Memorial Hospital,

Long-standing complaints about doctors being overpaid due to advances in new technology were finally taken on with an amendment to the fourth year of the Ontario Medical Association agreement. The OMA is essentially giving back $223 million a year by reducing opthamology fees (including cataract surgery), payment for endoscopy services, and through a new payment model for methadone.

When the William Osler P3 hospital opened in Brampton, there was local concern about the fate of the Peel Memorial Hospital. This week a major redevelopment was announced, creating the Peel Memorial Centre for Integrated Health and Wellness. The new centre brings many services under one roof, including urgent care, preventative care for chronic care patients, diagnostic services and community learning programs. Construction is due to begin in 2013. No figure has been given on anticipated cost.

Earlier in the summer the McGuinty government vowed to regulate private patient transfer after a damning omdubsman’s report.

If the Ministry is reading, there are a few other announcements we’d like to see. How about a staffing standard for long term care, or ending competitive bidding in home care? How about a fix for Peterborough Regional Health Centre or a moratorium on bed cuts and staff losses at the province’s psychiatric hospitals? How about bringing back public coverage for some of the health services the McGuinty government delisted, such as physiotherapy and eye examinations? So little time to October 6th, so many more issues.