No end to hall­way medicine

Hospi­tal work­ers’ union fears bed, job cuts at PRHC

The Peterborough Examiner - - Local - JES­SICA NYZNIK Ex­am­iner Staff Writer jes­sica.nyznik @pe­ter­bor­ough­daily.com

The city’s hospi­tal could see a sub­stan­tial loss of beds and staff under Premier Doug Ford’s new govern­ment, union of­fi­cials say.

The Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive govern­ment has pro­posed a 4 per cent cut to spend­ing by find­ing “ef­fi­cien­cies,” $7.6 billion in an­nual tax cuts and a com­mit­ment to a bal­anced bud­get.

With that plan, there’ll be no end to “hall­way medicine,” ac­cord­ing to a re­port by On­tario Coun­cil of Hospi­tal Unions (OCHU).

OCHU is the hospi­tal di­vi­sion of the Canadian Union of Pub­lic Em­ploy­ees (CUPE). CUPE Lo­cal 1943 rep­re­sents health care work­ers at Peter­bor­ough Re­gional Health Cen­tre (PRHC).

OCHU’s re­port, Hall­way Medicine: It Can Be Fixed, looks at the im­pact Ford’s prom­ises could have on com­mu­nity hos­pi­tals, in­clud­ing PRHC.

Based on OCHU’s num­ber crunch­ing, PRHC could lose be­tween 34 to 51 beds and 75 to 163 jobs.

Michael Hur­ley, OCHU pres­i­dent, said hospi­tal ser­vices are the largest sin­gle area of pro­gram spend­ing in the On­tario bud­get. There­fore, it’ll be dif­fi­cult to ex­empt hos­pi­tals from the cut.

Yet On­tario hos­pi­tals, es­pe­cially PRHC, are al­ready op­er­at­ing with less fund­ing and staff than other prov­inces in Canada.

At PRHC, the cost for a stan­dard­ized hospi­tal stay is about $1,700 less than the Canada-wide av­er­age, and about $1,100 less than the On­tario av­er­age.

“We un­der­spend the rest of the prov­inces by $400 per per­son, which is one of the rea­son that we have the prob­lems that we do,” Hur­ley said of PRHC.

One of those prob­lems is op­er­at­ing at 100 per cent ca­pac­ity most of the time, said CUPE Lo­cal 1943 pres­i­dent Lau­rie Hat­ton.

“We just can’t sus­tain that – it’s just not pos­si­ble to keep go­ing at that level,” Hat­ton said.

Many cit­i­zens might not re­al­ize the dire state of health care fund­ing, Hat­ton said, be­cause they get ad­e­quate care at PRHC.

Fund­ing is re­lated to the amount of care you can give, she said, and PRHC could do bet­ter.

“In Peter­bor­ough, the gen­eral con­sen­sus is we’re do­ing the best we can and that’s not right – we should be the best,” she said.

To end hall­way medicine, which Ford promised to do dur­ing the pro­vin­cial elec­tion, spend­ing must meet the needs of an ag­ing and grow­ing pop­u­la­tion, Hur­ley said.

The new spend­ing doesn’t have to be per­ma­nent, he pointed out, but is needed for the life of the baby boom gen­er­a­tion.

“We’re at a critical junc­ture in terms of how we ap­proach this prob­lem, do peo­ple get cared for dig­nity or do we sort of stack them up?” he said.

To rem­edy the hall­way medicine and bed cri­sis, OCHU’s re­port sug­gests sev­eral op­tions for the Con­ser­va­tive govern­ment to take into con­sid­er­a­tion.

“The pre­scrip­tion is to fund hos­pi­tals at the real cost, stop the cuts, open beds, long term care needs an in­vest­ment, men­tal health and ad­dic­tion and step away from re­struc­tur­ing and pri­va­ti­za­tion,” Hur­ley said.

“Health care is ex­pen­sive, it needs to be funded ap­pro­pri­ately and cut­ting it, in the long run, only ends up cost­ing more money down the road,” Hat­ton added.

JES­SICA NYZNIK EX­AM­INER

Lau­rie Hat­ton, CUPE Lo­cal 1943 pres­i­dent, and Michael Hur­ley, On­tario Coun­cil of Hospi­tal Unions pres­i­dent, talk to re­porter­son Fri­day.

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