Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Supervisor requested to take over the Mess at the NHS

John Robbins wrote in “Fort Erie joins call for hospital supervisor,”(St. Catharines Standard, Nov.5, 2008):

“Fort Erie has joined Niagara Falls in calling for the province to appoint a supervisor to assume control of the Niagara Health System.

At a news conference Tuesday, Fort Erie Mayor Doug Martin and former mayors John Teal and Wayne Redekop joined in calling on Ontario's health minister to take action by removing the health system's board of trustees and senior administration.

Without a change in leadership, they contend, it would be impossible for communities like Fort Erie to help fix the things ailing the acute-care system in Niagara.

"You reach a point where the atmosphere becomes so toxic that there's no redemption," said Teal, who served as mayor from 1988 to 1997 and as an NHS trustee during the early part of this decade before resigning that post.

"I don't think there's any time left for these people."

On Monday night, Niagara Falls city council passed a resolution asking the province to dismantle the NHS and appoint a provincial supervisor to manage the hospitals.

The requests by Fort Erie and Niagara Falls come on the heels of a review of the health system's controversial hospital improvement plan by Dr. Jack Kitts, president of The Ottawa Hospital.

Details of the plan, which recommends a sweeping reorganization of hospital services across the NHS's six sites, were made public in mid-July.

Kitts's report, which was published Friday, largely endorses the health system's plan, including a proposal to close obstetrical and pediatric wards at Greater Niagara General Hospital and the Welland Hospital.

Kitts said the plan is workable and will improve hospital service delivery, but requires politicians, health-care workers and citizens to get behind the changes.

Kitts suggested an "adviser" be appointed to mediate between the NHS and its critics.

Redekop, who served as mayor of Fort Erie from 1997 to 2006, said past attempts to work co-operatively with health system officials ended in failure.

Even though the NHS has said it's committed to improving communications and rebuilding trust, Redekop said it's too late for them to change the way they operate.

"This team would have to change radically, like a zebra going to spots," Redekop said.

"We don't believe it can be done. It has gone too far."

So far, Ontario Health Minister David Caplan has opted to stay out of the debate in Niagara, except to express confidence in the hospital improvement plan review process, which is being led by the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Local Health Integration Network.

The LHIN is the agency of the province responsible for health-care planning and funding in this area.

It's the members of the LHIN board of directors who will have to decide whether to approve the plan put forward by the NHS, with or without modifications.

"Obviously, we feel it's important to let this local decision-making process continue," Caplan spokesman Alan Findlay said.

"Given that that process is still underway, we'd like to see a local decision reached."

Betty-Lou Souter, chairwoman of the NHS board of trustees, would not comment on the calls for a provincially appointed hospital supervisor. Instead, she said her organization takes the concerns raised during public consultations on the hospital improvement plan "very seriously."

The NHS board, Souter said, is in the process of deciding how best to address those concerns and engage all of its stakeholders as the review process moves forward.”


Robbin’s story above reminds me of another story he wrote in The St. Catharines Standard, back on Mar.12, 2008, see:

Doing our best not be bruised by the velvet fist of socialized medicare

The Oct. 2008 Kitts report said nothing about nurse shortages or about surgery delays. (In fact, the Liberals just cut their nurse funding promises!)

The Liberals did not explain the reason for the surgery cancellations plaguing the NHS.

The Liberals did not explain the health-care failures noted in Ontario auditor Jim McCarter's 2007 report.

The Liberals did not explain why the NHS (as Dr. Kitts actually did say) was underfunded.

The Liberals refuse to explain why their hated Health Tax hasn't solved the NHS's funding needs.

The Liberals refused to investigate the NHS’s high patient death-rate (the third-highest in Canada) which was revealed in CIHI's Nov. 29, 2007 study.

Local St. Catharines Liberal Jim Bradley didn’t bother to immediately call for an independent investigation into these revelations.

Jim Bradley and his Liberals also refused to call the Ombudsman to investigate. To this date - nearly a year later - Jim Bradley still has not publicly explained the reasons for the NHS's high patient-mortality rate.

The arrogance and smug secrecy of Bradley and his Liberals is shocking. Bradley refuses to answer my requests for an explanation.

If a supervisor is appointed to take over the NHS (as happened in Brampton, See: Hospital death-rate in Liberal Jim Bradley's St. Catharines: third-worst in Canada) then the Ontario Ombudsman would be able to investigate the NHS. There are systemic problems in not only the NHS's, but in Ontario's Liberal-run health monopoly, problems that run deeper than squabbles about where a new hospital should be built

Liberals will do whatever they can to prevent any investigation of their Mess in the NHS.

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