As you read the below story it becomes apparent that this St.Catharines Standard article is totally mis-named; giving the impression that all is well; it should more aptly have read "EMS needs millions to carry out McGuinty ER cuts".
Grant Laflech wrote in "EMS keeping up with NHS changes" (St. Catharines Standard, Feb.4, 2010)
"Niagara's paramedics are staying on top of changes introduced by the Niagara Health System, but it isn't cheap and it hasn't been easy, they say.
The hospital system's restructuring plan has morphed emergency rooms in Port Colborne and Fort Erie into 24-hour urgent-care centres. They can handle minor illnesses and injuries while more serious cases are directed to hospitals in Welland and Niagara Falls.
Kevin Smith, Niagara EMS associate director, said the changes ultimately required more ambulances and more paramedics on Niagara roads. The increased distances to transport some patients means it takes more time on some calls, meaning extra crews were needed to maintain response times.
The extra vehicles and staff, paid for by Niagara Region, will cost about $3.3 million in the 2010 regional budget.
"That is just for the new vehicles and staff," Smith said. "That is on top of our usual budget."
Smith said the Niagara taxpayer shouldn't be shelling out for the changes in EMS services.
As he sees it, the changes made by the NHS were ultimately mandated and approved by the provincial government, and the buck should stop there.
"We cannot control the changes the NHS makes. We can only react to them," he said after presenting a report on the situation to the regional public health committee Tuesday afternoon. "That is why we are asking the provincial ministry to fund (the budget increase) 100%."
The Region sent a request to the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care several months ago, but Smith said no response has been received. The committee said it would follow up on the request to the government.
St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley said while neither Niagara EMS nor the Region has approached him about funding, he is aware of the issue and has raised it with the ministry.
"My understanding is that ministry staff is to set up a meeting with EMS and Niagara Region to discuss this issue," he said.
Bradley said all such requests are being handled on a case-by-case basis because the government is facing a $25-billion deficit. Funding requests of all kinds are being made, he said, but the government budget has its limits.
"A case has to be presented and if a case is strong enough, a ministry can see if it fits into their budgetary process."
Smith's report outlined why the extra resources were needed.
Since the NHS made the changes in Port Colborne and Fort Erie, paramedic workloads have noticeably risen. While call volumes have remained about the same in Port Colborne, they have risen in Fort Erie.
The report says while the number of calls has risen, patients not knowing when they should go to the urgent-care centre or an emergency room is also a factor.
A growing number of people are showing up at the Fort Erie urgent-care centre who should be treated at an emergency room, and some of them need to be transported to an ER by ambulance. The overall increased traffic of patients to the Welland and Niagara Falls ERs has exacerbated the chronic patient off-load delay problem. When an ambulance arrives at an ER and there are no beds for the patient, paramedics have to stay with the patient until one becomes free.
Smith's report said patients who previously would have not been subject to off-load delays in Port Colborne and Fort Erie are now facing those delays at ERs.
Committee members asked Smith if it was possible to take some patients to the urgent-care centres rather than an ER. It is possible, he said, but the NHS criteria for taking patients to an urgent-care centre are very narrow, meaning very few patients are transported to them.
"If we did not have the resources the Region has given us, you'd see response times start to rise," he said.
The report did not contain information about the St. Catharines emergency room and urgent-care centre.
Smith said he would update the committee in three months." [above red emphasis mine]
At least Lafleche managed to find Niagara's elusive Jim Bradley and get an actual quote from His Royal Hindness of Niagara. Why didn't Bradley provide any stats for the St.Catharines hospital in his own city?! Did the reporter ask? It's amazing: when Good Ole Jim was in opposition, if someone as much as sneezed in the hospital, Jim would call a news conference armed with all kinds of charts and figures and quotes and anti-Harris rhetoric.
Today - NOT A FLICKING THING from Good Ole Health-Care-Cuttin' Jimmy.
If only Lafleche had asked about Bradley's views on the Kitts HIP report: what public comments did Bradley ever make on that - since 2008? Anyone know?? Isn't that a wee bit relevant today?
Here we are in 2010, and LOOK AT BRADLEY'S SMUG REMARKS!
This Liberal MPP - after having helped McGuinty cut south Niagara's ER's - now sits there like a smug bureaucratic ass and says "hey - no-one called me!! How was I supposed to know how the hell patients will get to the hospital! That's the region's problem. Let the EMS worry about that!!"
Now Bradley sits back and has the utter gall to say that Smith from the EMS has to come crawling to the Liberals TO MAKE HIS CASE?
IT WAS BRADLEY'S LIBERALS that should have made the case - BEFORE their state-run health-monopoly initiated the cuts!
What is this incompetent Liberal smoking?
"The government budget has its limits" Bradley (the health-care-monopoly-forcing-despot) NOW sagely tells us, without any sense of hypocrisy or irony; without any damn acknowledgement or realization of the culpability of his own rabid, duplicitous ideology which led us here.
The utter GALL of this disgusting Liberal: 'the budget, which we ruined, has its limits, dear sheeple; nevertheless, we will not allow you to seek alternatives to our incompetent Liberal health monopoly!'
Now, Bradley babbles on (as if he's surprised) about his pathetic McGuinty government's $25 billion dollar deficit - thereby JUSTIFYING THE CUTS!! Bradley tells us this IS about money!!
The point of the Anzovino inquest is all about the fallout of the Liberal ER closures on the EMS response/patient delivery time!!
Just several days ago, on Jan.23, 2010, in the Globe and Mail (see here), Liberal health minister Deb Matthews told us that the Kitts HIP plan (which led to the ER closings in Port Colborne and Fort Erie) WAS NOT about saving money!!
Come on Jim: get your damn story straight - your own health minister contradicts you.