Letter: How to dismantle a hospital
To The Editor:
Dalton McGuinty is smiling. His plan to savage hospitals, and move health services from hospitals into the community, and into the arms of private companies, is coming true.
All over Ontario, hospitals are working to eliminate their budget deficits; hospital employees are being told to do more with less. They are told they are responsible for mistakes and errors, not their managers, who decide staffing levels. Patients are being discharged from hospital and sent home, based on financial statistics, and not recovery levels. Cleaning staff is being told their workload is increasing and their help is being “downsized”. Hospital services and beds are being cut,
Services are being de-listed from OHIP, causing more out of pocket expenses for patients. The provincial government encourages privatization of health services. Some services are now described as robbing the coffers of money intended for other programs.
Premier McGuinty has been at this for some time now. He has been successful in making the public believe that health care is too expensive, and Ontario continues to overspend. That is a lie. Ontario spends less tax dollars on health care than most other provinces. Health spending has been shrinking for several years due to McGuinty’s cuts.
The CEO of the CKHA announced lay-offs and service cuts yesterday. Now we are left with a situation where the long ER wait times in Chatham Kent will get longer, because of bed reductions. In Chatham, Medicine and Surgery and Paediatric beds have been cut. Surgeries will be reduced. Point of Care devices, more technically complicated than the usual glucometers and other hand held devices that most ER’s use, will be replacing qualified laboratory technologists in the Wallaceburg ER. 10 Complex Continuing Care beds are to be eliminated in Wallaceburg. More cuts are being considered.
Reduced numbers of active beds mean longer ER wait times and longer wait times for hospital admission, and more patient transfers to other facilities.
Increased workload will result as ER nurses try to provide care for ER patients, draw blood samples and perform blood tests.
It is obvious that patients in Complex Continuing Care beds or in Alternate Level of Care beds are more costly to hospitals; they are the frail and elderly, who now depend on others for help in their daily living. These patients are residents of Ontario; they have not given up their rights to proper health care and dignity in life, yet they represent bad business. The CEO of CKHA states that the CKHA can no longer afford to be in the Chronic Care business. It is now official: health care has little to do with patients’ welfare and is run like a business!
There is a long waiting list for nursing home beds, and an even longer wait for homecare services. Where does Dalton McGuinty expect these patients to go? Perhaps to private, for-profit long term care homes, with decreased regulations about quality and quantity of care?
What would any good businessman do? He would listen to business trends (the provincial government’s plans), he would downsize services that are deemed to be inefficient
(In-hospital lab services), download work onto other workers, despite their already heavy workload (point of care devices in ER), and declare that the care of elderly and frail patients is no longer a priority, but is an expense that cannot be tolerated.
This businessman would also look to hire full time case cost analyzers and a new manager for the Sydenham Complex Continuing care unit, despite this unit being downsized. In the near future I can imagine he will make comments regarding the Wallaceburg ER staff not being able to handle the workload, and perhaps the ER should be downsized to an Urgent Care Centre or he may suggest closing the ER at night.
This last week, the ER staff, at both campuses, was instructed that they could no longer offer hot food to ER patients who will not be admitted. What a cost saving! And it only comes at the expense of compassion. A seriously ill patient at the Chatham ER had to wait approximately 15 hours for a bed upstairs, finally being admitted at midnight. That’s the cost of doing business.
All Ontario hospitals will have to develop new Mission and Vision statements, leaving out any reference to quality care. The public should decide! What about: “We’re open for business, sort of”…. or Administration is Us” or…. “Quality care? What quality care”
Call your CKHA tri-board members. Call your MPP’s. Call the papers. Call the Premier. Call the Health Minister. Call the Tax collectors. You are citizens, voters and taxpayers.
Act now. Or we will have a completely new health care system: one that has nothing to do with the Canada Health Act, which guarantees equitable access to health care for all.
Shirley Roebuck, Chair, Chatham Kent Health Coalition.