Monday, January 7, 2008

Hospital death-rate in Liberal Jim Bradley's St. Catharines: third-worst in Canada

Here’s a thread of stories regarding the continuing saga of the Liberal disaster of a hospital project in Brampton:

On Jan. 1, 2008 the Toronto Sun’s Tamara Cherry wrote in “Hospital CEO sidelined, New supervisor takes over at beleaguered Brampton Civic”:

“The CEO and board of Brampton Civic Hospital were rendered powerless yesterday with the provincial appointment of a supervisor sent in to raise public confidence in the ever-controversial hospital.
Admitting he is "not at all" familiar with concerns put forward by Bramptonians, including those of a 72-year-old woman who had the wrong leg cut open during surgery last week, Ken White said he is "probably as prepared as anybody" for the position of supervisor.
White acted as an investigator for the hospital until its doors opened Oct. 28, but said he is only now beginning to catch up on complaints against the hospital.
With White now carrying "ultimate responsibility" for the hospital, it was unclear yesterday what the future holds for Robert Richards, CEO of William Osler Health Centre, which umbrellas Brampton Civic and Etobicoke General .
"Mr. Richards' status is still being negotiated," said hospital spokesman Gillian Williams McClean Automatically, when a supervisor is appointed, the CEO is without power or authority," said White.
Brampton Civic has been under fire since its doors opened the same day Peel Memorial Hospital closed for renovations.
In November, Harnek Sidhu, 52, waited 12 hours for a hospital bed before he died of pancreatitis 10 days later, his family said. His death and that of another man shortly after spurred Bramptonians for Better Health Care (BBHC) to lead more than 1,000 protesters through downtown Brampton.
Amar Kaur Brar, 72, who broke her left leg only to have her right leg cut open in surgery Christmas Day, remained in her hospital bed in "so much pain" yesterday, said her granddaughter Kanwaljot Brar, 21.
Hospital officials wouldn't allow media onto Brar's floor.
In addressing the need for more hospital staff in order to open more beds, George Smitherman, deputy premier and minister for long-term care, pushed blame to the community and media.
"When a hospital is in ... a state of a little bit under siege from a media and community response, I think that it can be somewhat intimidating to (potential) employees," Smitherman said.
"Job one for all of us must be establishing the necessary confidence in the operation of this hospital," Smitherman said in announcing White's appointment, which is expected to be in effect for six to nine months.
Duncan Glaholt, chairman of the hospital's board of directors, said while it's possible board members will step down during White's appointment, "all the board have faith in him.
You can't have two groups running a hospital," Glaholt said. "Ken's a marvellous guy.

Tamara Cherry followed up with this story, “Ombudsman widens aim, Now he can investigate complaints about Brampton hospital”, (Toronto Sun, Jan. 3, 2008):

"The provincial appointment of a supervisor to oversee Brampton Civic Hospital means the province's watchdog now has jurisdiction to investigate complaints against the facility.
Health and Long-Term Care Minister George Smitherman appointed Ken White to take control as supervisor of Brampton Civic on Monday, following a series of complaints that have plagued the hospital since it opened Oct. 28.
Most recently, a 72-year-old woman had the wrong leg cut open during Christmas Day surgery. In November, a man waited 12 hours in the emergency room before dying of pancreatitis 10 days later, his family said.
Ontario ombudsman Andre Marin is the only provincial watchdog in Canada who doesn't have the mandate to oversee hospitals, his office said yesterday. He can therefore only investigate complaints when the government takes direct control of an institution, as it did with Brampton Civic.
Marin can now investigate any complaints that come to his office regarding William Osler Health Centre, which oversees Brampton Civic and Etobicoke General. According to Marin's annual report, his office received 237 complaints and inquiries about problems in hospitals and long-term care facilities last year alone. But without jurisdiction, he was powerless to investigate.
"Many were from vulnerable individuals or their families, some of whom alleged that they had experienced retaliation from the institutions when they raised concerns internally," Marin said in his report.
One complaint was about a woman who waited for a week in an emergency room bed for treatment of a chronic condition, only to be transferred elsewhere two weeks later by the hospital, which then refused to forward her medical history to the new facility, Marin said.
Another was about a nursing home resident who was allegedly being abused by a relative, "apparently with the knowledge of the home's administrators."
Last year alone, Marin's office was forced to decline nearly 2,400 "pleas for help" involving municipalities, universities, school boards, hospitals and long-term care facilities, as well as other organizations such as police and children's aid societies.
"These areas consume the bulk of provincial budgets, and more importantly, they represent the most serious contacts that Ontarians can have with their government. Yet they are immune from our scrutiny," Marin said.
In addition to William Osler, Marin can investigate complaints about Scarborough Hospital, Stevenson Memorial Hospital in Alliston and Huronia District Hospital, which have been under provincial supervision in recent months."


Peter Crisione wrote in “Ontario’s Ombudsman can now hear complaints about BCH”, (Brampton Guardian, Jan.3, 2008):

“Ontario's Ombudsman will now investigate complaints made against William Osler Health Centre, the province's top watchdog agency announced Wednesday.
With the appointment of Ken White as supervisor to William Osler Health Centre, the agency now has the power to look into patient grievances.
The Ombudsman's office does not generally have power over hospitals in Ontario, but White's appointment has changed that, said agency spokesperson Linda Williamson.
"That changes when the government takes direct control since the Ombudsman has jurisdiction over the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care," she said.
The move comes after two patient deaths at the hospital, and after a 72-year-old woman claimed doctors operated on the wrong leg when she went to Brampton Civic for surgery on Christmas Day. Williamson said the provincial agency does not intend to investigate the events that have transpired at the new hospital recently. Rather, the Ombudsman's office will look into situations that occur at Brampton Civic moving forward.
"This is the very beginning of a process. We are not now saying 'Oh we heard about something that happened a couple of months ago and we'll go and investigate,'" Williamson said. Someone will have to come forward with a complaint. We get 20,000 complaints a year on everything in the government and so we will assess them the way we do all our complaints. And if there is something with substance of course we will investigate it and see what happens from there."
Ontario is the only province in Canada where the Ombudsman does not have a mandate to oversee hospitals. Despite this, the office receives numerous complaints about hospitals every year that cannot be investigated.
A total of 228 complaints about hospitals were received in 2007, the office of the Ombudsman has reported.
"Normally, if someone were to call us about the hospital we wouldn't be able to do anything," Williamson told The Guardian. "Right now there is this window of jurisdiction that has opened."
If a problem with the government has been identified, the Ombudsman can report on it and make recommendations to correct the situation.
The agency can also make recommendations to change government policies and practices to prevent similar problems from occurring in the future.”


Prithi Yelaja wrote in "Smitherman defends deal for hospital, Dismisses bids to link patient care troubles to funding model", (Toronto Star, Jan.7, 2008):

"As the Ontario Health Coalition was poised to release a report today about what it calls a "cover-up" surrounding the public-private partnership that built Brampton Civic Hospital, Health Minister George Smitherman dismissed the group as "more irrelevant by the day."
"George Smitherman will not be spending too much time worrying about what the Ontario Health Coalition has got to say because they've demonstrated very little relevance," Smitherman told the Star in a wide-ranging interview.
"They have a lot of rhetoric. ... At a certain point of time people have to start to question their motives."
In its report to be released at Queen's Park, the activist group contends that the so-called P3 deal to build Brampton Civic has proved costly to taxpayers, delivering a smaller facility than promised, late and over budget.
"At every stage, as deadlines were missed, as costs ballooned, as the capacity of the hospital was reduced, elected officials responded to public questioning with a string of broken promises, denials and obfuscation," says the report.
Adds the coalition's Natalie Mehra: "It's the oldest trick in the book to attack the messenger and sidetrack the message. I would hope the government would stop running this as a public relations game and put their P3 policy under serious review."
Smitherman denied any links between the P3 model and legitimate community concerns about long wait times in the emergency unit, staff shortages and poor communication at the new hospital.
He said public sector unions and the coalition "want to use the misfortune around patient care incidents to muddle the issue around the nature of the building.
"Because a building has a mortgage, it makes people sick? The Ontario Health Coalition has a mindset ... that's mostly about fighting a battle that's long, long, long since been decided," he said. Last week, Smitherman named Ken White as hospital supervisor, charged with looking into problems at Brampton Civic in an effort to restore public confidence.
The deaths of Harnek Sidhu, 52, of pancreatitis and Amarjit Narwal, 42, of a stroke, sparked a huge community protest in December, fuelled by the coalition and Punjabi-language media. Amar Kaur, 72, recently complained that doctors cut open her right leg by mistake when she required surgery on her fractured left leg.
Appointing a supervisor was unusual because Brampton Civic had barely opened. It was inaugurated with great fanfare on Oct. 28, replacing the aging and now closed Peel Memorial Hospital.
"This is a new building, but the core of the organization has been around for quite a long time. ... Let's not pretend that the old Peel Memorial was a hospital that was operating perfectly and was unblemished in the community's eyes. We've had some challenges there for a good number of years," Smitherman said.
While Peel Memorial scored the lowest weighted mortality rate of all hospitals in the province based on a recent report, Smitherman said that was largely attributable to the calibre of its front line staff. But he suggested the quality of leadership at the CEO and board level needs improvement.
Reporting directly to Smitherman, White has powers to override both board chair Duncan Glaholt and CEO Robert Richards. Glaholt denied local rumours that the board had resigned in light of the move or that Richards was fired.
"Our instinct is consensual, but that shouldn't be misunderstood for status quo. It's certainly not a quick fix," said Smitherman, adding that White's job could take nine months or longer.
As for negative, sometimes erroneous, media reports inflaming the controversy, Smitherman said, "no hospital where the staff is feeling under siege is going to produce the results that we need. The perception from staff is they're a little bit set upon by the community, and the perception from the community (is that) the staff are not necessarily meeting all of their needs."
The fate of the mothballed Peel Memorial is also at issue. Many people in fast-growing Brampton feel the city needs two hospitals. The Local Health Integration Network will hold the first of two public meetings Wednesday night to solicit community input on what services to provide at a refurbished Peel Memorial.
The question has been asked repeatedly: Will the old facility reopen in 2009?
"I have been consistent on this point since 2005," he said. "Because of the deviousness around some of these community players, they will not accept yes for an answer."
While Brampton Civic "was built with all of the growth that has occurred (in the region) in mind and then some, we agree fundamentally that Brampton's future health care needs will definitely require substantial services being provided at the Peel Memorial site."
However, he said, "Job one is enhancements to the quality and quantity of clinical services" at Brampton Civic. "Spreading resources across two sites is a very, very bad idea right now."
The local community still owes $110 million – nearly half of its share of the cost of building the $790 million hospital – and Smitherman is not letting it off the hook.
"Never before in Ontario have we embarked on such a big initiative, where community fundraising efforts have been relatively more modest than the scale of the community's ambitions.""

After CIHI released their mortality-rates report on Nov.29, 2007, revealing that St. Catharines General Hospital's death-rate was the third-worst of 85 Canadian hospitals studied, (excluding Quebec), the Liberals (prodded by Niagara Falls Liberal MPP Kim Craitor) trotted out a smoke-and-mirror 'organizational review' of the NHS, but ignored the mortality-rate issue!
Local Liberal MPP Jim Bradley, who in opposition raised a stink about issues like gasoline prices, couldn't be bothered to raise a stink about this deadly health-care embarrassment in his own city.

The Ontario Ombudsman's office does not have the mandate to oversee hospitals... unless the government allows the Ombudsman to do so.
The Liberals along with Jim Bradley chose not to investigate the high NHS death rates.
There was no direct call for the Ombudsman here; nor was there an appointment of a supervisor to the NHS (as occurred at other Ontario hospitals under scrutiny) to pave the way for the Ombudsman.

I guess the death rates - at third-worst in the Canada - aren't yet high enough for the Liberals to warrant concern.
As James Wallace wrote in the St. Catharines Standard (Dec.1, 2007), "mortality rates at the St. Catharines hospital, for example, are 35 per cent higher than the national average" ... yet, Liberal MPP Jim Bradley didn't even bother to ask for an IMMEDIATE INVESTIGATION, nor did Liberal Jim Bradley himself bother to explain this disturbing revelation.
Maybe it's the Liberal way to meet Kyoto-CO2 emissions by controlling the population? High death rates: that's good, pro-environment 'green' policy, isn't it?

It is astounding how Liberal health care duplicity extends to making it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for any outside body to investigate the government-run health monopoly, unless they first get PERMISSION from the government!
This allows Ontario's Liberals to control and stage the timing of events. The health 'system' has itself and its political masters to protect first; patients and their health-market-needs are not part of this monopoly's priorities. This system is first and foremost a social experiment. Patients are the political guinea pigs.

The reasons for the McCreith/Holmes health-care Charter challenge occurring become clearer when seen in context to this kind of lack of transparency, self-protection, and unresponsiveness surrounding institutionalized monopoly health-care in Ontario. This is the judicial by-pass patients have been forced into, because legislated monopoly health-care has clogged Ontario's delivery arteries with socialism.

Patients stuck in this mess have no time for the promises of socialized medicine to kick in - the promises vanish as the failed realities of Smitherman's protected system set in.

The Toronto Star reported Jan.7, 2008, how Smitherman, talking of Brampton, "dismisses bids to link patient care troubles to funding model". Yet in Niagara, exactly a month ago, the St. Catharines Standard (Dec. 7, 2007) reported "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."

So: 'patient care troubles' are not related to funding - at least in Brampton, and as already predetermined by the biased person running the system, Smitherman! Are we just supposed to take this Liberal's word that this is true?!

And so, what about the 'patient care troubles' in St. Catharines?

There, Smitherman's staff were also denying any link between the CIHI report and the subsequent Liberal NHS 'organizational review'!! Unbelievable.

You would think that the Liberals would have immediately shown concern about the high death rates, and launch - not a simple (yet purposefully politically deflective) "organizational review" - but a full-fledged inquiry.
But no: in St. Catharines, Jim Bradley and his disgusting Liberals didn't even acknowledge any link between their 'funding model', the high death rates, and their so-called 'review'.

The real issue here (which Jim Bradley and his Liberal were desperately trying to cloud and hide with their phony 'review') was actually the Liberal's "funding model' itself - specifically, the Liberal's failing single-payer-monopoly funding model.

Jim Bradley and his Ontario Liberals were desperate to ensure that NO LINK be made between their under-funding of health-care to the patients' deaths.
The Ontario Liberals desperately needed to divert, deny, and deflect ANY scrutiny of their monopolist single-payer ideology's link to their under-funded monopoly system's patient deaths.
Jim Bradley and his Liberals needed to deflect their own direct links to the patient deaths in their own underfunded monopoly - - while at the same time, these same Liberals propagandized and portrayed themselves as somehow holding the mantle for, and being the 'saviours' of, Ontario's patients!!
This deception, this political conceit, is at the crux of Ontario's Liberal health-care duplicity.

Liberals also ignored that "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," [Betty-Lou Souter, chairwoman of the health system's board of trustees] said."The bottom line is, we need to have more money to carry out the programs we're doing." " (St. Catharines Standard, Dec.7, 2007)
So why doesn't the single-payer-pushing health-care monopolist Jim Bradley explain why his Liberals are not sufficiently funding the health monopoly which they cherish so?
Where's the money?!

Liberal leader McGuinty said twice during the election leaders' debate (Sept.20, 2007) that "one-half" of Ontario government spending goes to health care. Jim Wallace wrote in the St. Catharines Standard (Dec.1, 2007) that the government spent "46 cents of every dollar", or "near $38 billion this year" on health care.
Carol Goar wrote in the Toronto Star (Jan.7, 2008) that Ontario's health care system "consumes 40 cents out of every provincial dollar".

Which is the correct figure? Do defenders of the status-quo health care monopoly, like Jim Bradley, even know the true cost of delivering health care? Was McGuinty lying that he spends 50% on health care? Is columnist Goar's figure of 40% correct? To me, a 10% discrepancy on a figure of 38 BILLION dollars shows an unacceptable margin for error. Who is accountable here?

The Liberal's own legislated health monopoly, the NHS, said it needs money, yet Liberal health minister 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." (St. Catharines Standard, Dec.7, 2007)

This from the demagogue who relies too much on the protectionism of monopoly; who denies individual patients spending whatever they want themselves for their own health care.

The Savant-Known-As-Smitherman will decide what treatment patients will get in the non-competitive monopoly system which he runs! Smitherman's fallacy - and it's a great big one, going to the heart of the health care debate - is pretending that he alone can control health care through an almost-insane desire to limit patient's own choices in the Liberal-controlled system.
Smitherman has already acknowledged that the province 'can't do it all'; yet then he continues to propagate his institutionalized monopoly, to the detriment of beleaguered patients.
He beats around the bush, intimating that if it's not about the money, then it's about what... the NHS apparently being fiscally irresponsible, free-for-all spenders, who must be reigned in within Smitherman-allotted budgets... is that what he was saying to Souter??
And if you can't do that, then what? Don't ask for more money...?
Is that the scenario which was unfolding in Niagara's and other Ontario hospitals since the Liberals were elected in 2003, and which was downplayed by the Liberals, despite being in full-blown disaster mode during the 2007 election? Is there not a link between Smitherman's health-care allocations and death-rates? How can anyone know?

One can't help wonder about Smitherman's logic when he tries to blame the community and media's reaction to the Brampton situation. But... the community marched because Smitherman's system failed! Not two weeks after the October 2007 election, the Liberals were bragging about their shiny new Brampton hospital, yet by December the "community" had the audacity to stage a protest march, rather than cower, suffer and wait, as Smitherman would have preferred.

Smitherman's line "Let's not pretend that the old Peel Memorial was a hospital that was operating perfectly and was unblemished in the community's eyes" (Toronto Star, Jan.7, 2008) just exemplifies the callousness of this demagogue. How dare these rag-tag ungrateful community protestors blemish Smitherman's grand Ministry Of Monopolism?! Smitherman said that Peel had "challenges there for a good number of years"... of which four years were under Smitherman's own complete control!

As interesting as it is to see Smitherman dump and dismiss the concerns of the socialist-infected Ontario Health Coalition, nevertheless, an independent investigation might reveal some truths supportive of their claims regarding how the Liberals run their monopoly.

However, it should be noted that neither the socialists (who want despotic state-run medicare even worse than the Liberals do), nor the Liberals, in their cat-fight, acknowledge patient-choice and the co-existence of a private-parallel health system. They can continue to squawk and fight over their P3-or-not-to-be models for the rest of eternity, as long as in the meantime, sick Ontarians, who are sick of their endless squabbles, can get their needed care elsewhere in Ontario. Patients should not be kept hostage in an NDP/Liberal medicare monopoly which worships at the alter of Tommy Douglas. One can't help but wonder how less fractious and more productive it would be if hospitals were allowed to be built and operated privately, without politicians.

If people had protested and marched in St. Catharines upon hearing of our local system's mortality-rates, would we also have had the Ombudsman looking at the NHS by now? Would we see Smitherman and Bradley smugly tut-tutting and reprimanding us, as they are now? Will we face the same state-run incompetencies with St. Catharines' proposed hospital, if it gets built? Will the "challenges" of high mortality rates simply continue, un-investigated, in the new NHS facility?

For Smitherman to blather on about reform and status-quo is beyond the pale: his own Liberals are the status-quo, and they didn't institute any market or patient-choice reforms. Is the Liberal Commitment to the Future of Medicare Act at the heart of any of these problems? Will we ever be able to tell?

During the 2007 election, Smitherman's Liberals pretended there was nothing wrong with their health monopoly; not three months later, the Ombudsman is hovering over a number of different regional hospitals: this is surely a sign, that despite the Liberal's don't-worry-be-happy facade, the system was sick even during the election.

Now that parts of Ontario's health system have been 'cleared' for possible Ombudsman investigation, why do the Liberals not give the Ombudsman access to investigate Ontario's entire health system?

Or should we just save the money and wait, hoping that the McCreith/Holmes judicial challenge will beat down Smitherman's legislated Liberal demagoguery?

To Smitherman, private-parallel and patient payer choice and competition in health-care are anathema. His pretension for 'reform' is just fiddling with more GRAND-SCHEME-STATIST-WE-KNOW-WHAT'S-BEST-FOR-YOU Liberalism.

I hope that those Michael Moore Americans who so cherish our failing single-payer health care system can only see the sicko, flicking Liberal B.S. which Ontario's patients have no choice but to deal with.

1 comment:

David Wilson said...

The gentleman who wrote this article definitely knows what he is talking about. I feel that with the filth of the rooms and halls and the "lackadaisical" attitude of a majority of the doctors and nurses at the SCGH we are going to get the same kind of service when the new hospital opens up.

God help us all (liberals won't)