Friday, December 28, 2007

High patient death rates deserve only "routine" Liberal review

The St. Catharines Standard (Dec.7, 2007) ran this report by Peter Downs and John Robbins “NHS review pondered” (my comments are in italics):

"The Niagara Health System may find itself under the microscope of Ontario's Health Ministry in the new year.
Health Minister George Smitherman is considering whether to launch an organizational review of the NHS.
"I haven't concluded definitively whether I'm keen for a review or not, but I would acknowledge that I don't think the status quo is going to cut it," Smitherman said Thursday. "The status quo is what people are experiencing.""
George Smitherman is now using the word “status-quo” as if what... as if this 'status-quo' is not of his OWN doing?? As if this is someone else’s status quo? What is he really talking about? What is the specific definition of status–quo, according to our own health minister? Is it the status quo that emanates from a state-controlled, single-payer health monopoly? Or, is Smitherman, skipper of our health-care Titanic, going through the motions to rearrange the deck chairs?

"The minister was responding after Niagara Falls MPP Kim Craitor called for a close examination of the health system's operations earlier this week.
In an interview with Osprey News, Smitherman said he has had some preliminary discussions with Craitor and is planning to consult with other stakeholders, including health system officials, before deciding sometime early in the new year how best to address Craitor's concerns."

How about consulting taxpayers, patients, insurance companies, and, oh yes, in the McCreith/Holmes case, the CHARTER?

"Craitor has said he wants to determine whether the NHS - created through amalgamation seven years ago - provides the "best way" to manage seven hospital sites in Niagara.
"There was never any mechanism put in place by the government of the day to review it. It was like, this is it, no discussion and this is the way it's going to be," he said."

Hey, Kim: was there any mechanism to review Ontario’s disastrous single-payer, state-run health care monopoly? Take a look at the phony Liberal “review” of their hated shell-game Health Tax, the outcome which McGuinty has already pre-judged, Soviet-style. “This is it, no discussion,” laments Liberal Craitor?!? This is EXACTLY what his Liberals did when they shoved their phony Health Tax down our throats! You know, the billions McGuinty "needed" to save the very health care system which his health minister is now supposedly “reviewing”. Don’t hide history, Kim!

"Craitor said he's hopeful a review would look at whether the current governance structure - a single corporation and board overseeing hospitals in several cities - ought to be changed.
"It just seemed appropriate to me that we should at least have a look to ensure that this creation that was thrust on us is the best way to deliver health care for the whole Niagara region," he said."

Tommy Douglas’ boondoggle was NOT thrust upon us? The Liberal health care tax was NOT thrust upon us? Is single-payer state-run universal medicare the best way to deliver health care? Will any Liberal question the appropriateness of that fundamental question? Jim? Kim? George? Dalton? Anyone?? Or is this just more of a huffing-and-puffing show-trial, meant to change nothing under the cover of a lot of smoke and mirrors?

"Betty-Lou Souter, chairwoman of the health system's board of trustees, said she's aware the minister expects change and health system officials are prepared to work with the ministry and the local health integration network, which is responsible for overseeing health-care priorities in Niagara, to make improvements.
"(The minister) said the status quo is no longer acceptable," Souter said. "We wholeheartedly agree with that.""

The instrument of "the status–quo" agrees with the Health Minister?! When did this supposed change of heart come about? Or did the meaning of ‘status-quo’ subtly change?

"Asked what she thinks Smitherman meant by that statement, Souter said she believes the minister expects the health system to balance its books."

Balance the books?! What?? In a monopoly, run and controlled by Smitherman's Ontario liberals?! The collective wants to "balance the books" of the healthcare system?
We must remember: this 'collective' is a single-payer, health-care-cutting MONOPOLY!! "Balancing the books" is a euphemism for statist health care CUTS! The Liberal health care monopolists are the ones who SET the budgets, in the first place!  There is no other source of income for the system, other than Liberal-monopolist government-controlled largess. Patients have no say in the matter.Where are the cries of injustice, the invocations of Tommy Douglas, the smug derisive comparisons to U.S. HMO’s?

"Laurel Ostfield, a spokeswoman for Smitherman, said the spectre of a review of operations at the NHS isn't a direct response to high death rates at St. Catharines General Hospital, which made national headlines last week. "

It’s NOT a direct response?!
As ridiculous as that government answer is from Ostfield, if it’s true, then the question is: what kind of incompetent government would NOT review such poor performance?
It should have been the Ontario Liberals' IMMEDIATE response!

"The hospital tied with Scarborough General Hospital as having the third-highest death rate of 85 large acute-care hospitals in a report released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information.The same study found that the NHS as a whole also had a higher death rate than the national average.
"Obviously, the rate the Niagara Health System received shows that there is some room for improvement," Ostfield said. "

Always look on the bright side, eh…actually, there's not "some", there's a LOT of room for improvement. Without a doubt, a major improvement would be to jail the Ontario Liberals who covered up their own deadly monopolist ideological institutional incompetence.

"But the ministry also has concerns about additional issues, such as the health system's ongoing financial problems and complaints over the care its hospitals provide.
"People aren't experiencing the quality of care that they would like at the Niagara Health System," Ostfield said. "

"Financial problems"?! Really, Ms.Ostfield??
The financial problems are created by THE MONOPOLIST LIBERALS, who completely control the health-care finances!!!!
There is no other way of putting it - Ontario's monopolist Liberals ration the health care budgets, and the health care budgets don't meet the needs of the patients!!
"Complaints about care?" What!? But why should a behemoth single-payer government-run health-monopoly care about patients? What incentive do they really have to go the extra mile...sorry...kilometre? Patients are a burden to the hospital budget, not an asset to be served - this is the essence of the single-payer monopoly enforced by Ontario Liberals! Hospitals get their salaries paid, no matter how they (mis)treat patients. If you don't like it, go to the States for care, like so many other Ontarians have been forced to do.
It's not like any Ontario Liberal is accountable for the monopolist health-care horrors they perpetrate.
A Liberal might even show up at your funeral (as Niagara's disgusting Liberal MPP Jim Bradley did at Suzanne Aucoin's memorial) to solemnly talk of health care 'inequities' - with out the slightest perception of irony, as if 'Good Ol' Aw Shucks Jim' had NOTHING TO DO WITH THE HEALTH-CARE CUTS which forced Aucoin to go to the States for cancer treatment!!

""The Niagara Health System on a whole has been having some challenges we need to address.""

Is it just Niagara Region that is experiencing health-system problems? What about the rest of Ontario? Are these temporary "challenges", or are they repetitive, predictable, cyclical, systemic monopoly-infected problems? Have the symptoms been determined and diagnosed?

"Souter said the NHS board of trustees would welcome a provincial review if it shines light on the difficult financial position it is in."

Maybe, when the court finally rules on the McCreith/Holmes health care charter challenge, and Ontario loses, this review can conveniently morph into the official Health Care Competition Restructuring Board! Progressive Liberal thinkers win again, yay!

"The NHS has consistently maintained it doesn't receive enough funding from the provincial government to properly care for a population with a large mix of seniors and residents on the lower end of the socio-economic scale.
"If a review brings in the results we need to get the funding we need, then we're all for it," Souter said.
"The bottom line is, we need to have more money to carry out the programs we're doing." "

Now Souter says the NHS NEEDS MORE MONEY???!!!?! Money from where, from who?? From the very same Liberal-controlled health-monopoly, which just CUT the very same monopolist, rationed funding???
Yet the Bradley/Craitor provincial Liberals have $2.5 billion in surplus from their 2004-instituted Health Tax, don’t they?!
How can anyone claim there is a cash/funding shortage?

"The NHS - which has an overall budget of approximately $350 million - is projecting it will end the fiscal year March 31 with a deficit of about $15 million.
"Our ongoing inability to balance hinders our ability to replace equipment on a timely basis and upgrade infrastructure. That has an impact on provision of care," Souter said. "

If a private insurance company or hospital in the same position had said the same thing, the Liberal's invective would have no bounds on its self-righteous recriminations.

"Ostfield said she couldn't speculate about whether a possible review would focus on more funding for the NHS.
She pointed out the ministry has already increased funding to the NHS by $80 million over the past four years."

Paul Martin, the same federal Liberal that starved the provinces of cash transfers in the 1990’s, went on to then supposedly single-handedly solve this funding “problem” (which he helped cause!) by announcing his multi-billion dollar solution for a generation. Didn’t enough of this health cash arrive in Niagara? Or was all that feel-good Liberal B.S.?

"Smitherman said: "I do think the Niagara Health System likes to rely a little bit too much on the idea that it's all about money, and I think that's a fallacy. I think (that argument) can become a little too relied upon. What it kind of suggests is the only thing that's the answer to health-care woes is a fiscal free-for-all, spend whatever you want." "

Let all Americans who yearn for single-payer medicare read what a Liberal Health Minister in Canada’s largest populated province is saying in 2007.

These are the same Americans (and Canucks, natch) who laugh off Canada’s shortages and systemic problems as the result of ‘not spending enough money’, sincerely believing that medicare is not (after 40 years in Canada) the Nirvana that it ‘should’ be, only because we don’t spend enough.
Ontario Premier McGuinty said on Sept.20, 2007 that Ontario already spends "one-half" of its entire budget on health care!
Is that not enough? Obviously not.
Yet on the other hand, medicare-monopoly-fans point to how our state-run system IS a Nirvana, because it’s supposedly so much cheaper than the American one. But Michael Moore-types, who praise Canada’s medicare through rose-tinted lenses, ignore socialized medicare's sytemic shortages and problems; the very problems that Craitor and Smitherman are now, apparently, reviewing to review.
The Liberals send Ontarians TO Moore's supposedly-sicko States for treatment, because “medicare” (the promise) can’t provide medical-care (the reality) for patients here.

"Meanwhile, Souter said she's doubtful the Health Ministry would have any appetite for dismantling the NHS and going through another hospital restructuring exercise.
"It just doesn't make sense to go backwards," she said."

Is a patient's right to pay for their own health care a slippery-sloped, backwards-sliding road to perdition? Is dismantling single-payer, state-run medicare a step backwards? Or, was medicare itself the step which was backwards?

""To reinstitute multiple administrations would add more administrative costs to the system and take away from what we really need in Niagara - and that's more front-line patient care."
Souter said the NHS asked the Health Ministry last summer to arrange a peer review - an examination of its operations by an outside hospital administrator - but was unable to receive one.
The NHS consequently hired a consulting firm - the HCM Group - to identify areas where it can find savings by improving efficiency and productivity at hospitals, Souter said.
A report on the consulting firm's review is still being finalized.
St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley said the Health Ministry frequently evaluates hospitals across the province. "

Yet, as the provincial auditor just reported, Bradley’s Liberals have no idea of the health system’s capacity!! How can they even properly utilize their front line human resources when they can’t quantify their physical resources? Why didn’t the Liberals publicly reveal that fact themselves? Also, operating rooms were shut down due to staff vacations. So what do patients do in the meanwhile, while they’re sick…again, suffer and wait for the staff to return? What other choice is there for patients in the Liberal health monopoly?

"This is fairly routine stuff," he said.

Ah, the smug, deflective, non-chalance of Liberal hack Jim Bradley; the sweet, lullaby tones of Liberal health care duplicity just ooze from his very pores!
What’s "routine", Jim? Patients waiting, suffering, dying for health care while busy, 'well-meaning' monopolist Liberals busily pretend to “fix” the health care system - which they themselves broke??!! I agree, that is a familiar, routine song-and-dance.

""I know the ministry will look carefully at the results of what they (the NHS) have done themselves."
A review would not cause any disruptions in plans to build a new hospital complex and cancer treatment centre in St. Catharines, Bradley said. "

It’s amazing, isn't it, that Bradley himself didn’t publicly call for a review of the health system whose hospital showed such poor performance in Jim Bradley’s own St. Catharines backyard.
Can one imagine the indignant posturing by Bradley if he had been in opposition while this happened; he would have been insufferable.
But on Bradley’s watch, embarrassingly high patient death rates in his home-town health-monopoly only deserve “routine” 'organizational' review? !
As Laurel Broten might say, Unflicking believable!

""This is totally exclusive of that. The ministry is completely committed to it," he said. "

Yes, yes Jim…one day, just prior to an election, your hospital might open…and then the same old problems will reappear in the same old system, just in a newer location, which would soon lead to more reviews...

"Niagara West-Glanbrook Conservative MPP Tim Hudak said he's willing to support Craitor's call for an operational review if it's done by an independent, third party, it's paid for by the Ministry of Health and the terms of reference aren't limited to governance structure, instead allowing for a review of the current funding formula."

How about this funding formula: that instead of being paid from a budget allotted by the Liberals to their health care monopoly, that hospitals earn their living by actually catering to patients, by accepting health-vouchers, allowing patients to decide where to obtain their health services.

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