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.