Report blames management for poor service
Gatineau health centre plagued by stressed staff, deficit Humane society sets date for new policies
Two reports commissioned by the Quebec ministry of health blame the management of the Centre de santé et des services sociaux de Gatineau for financial waste and poor service delivery at hospitals, clinics and seniors’ homes.
A report by Dr. Mathias Kalina and Gratienne Lamarche of McGill University condemns muddled management and internal conflict at the health and social services agency.
A second report, by Montreal management consultants Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, said agency officials didn’t see an urgent need to balance the centre’s budget.
The agency was created in 2004 to manage the merged Gatineau and Hull hospitals, three clinics and social services centres and four seniors’ homes.
The McGill report said tensions between doctors and health service management resulted in internal chaos.
The report said it was unacceptable that 30 per cent of patients waited longer than 48 hours in emergency rooms before they were admitted.
“ There is palpable stress among professionals and staff,” the report said. “ The dignity and security of patients was sometimes compromised by the congested situation.”
Denis- Bernard Raiche was the agency’s executive director until three weeks ago, when he left for a job in Montreal. The agency has appointed Jean- Pierre Chicoine, the former administrator of Ste- Justine Hospital in Sherbrooke, for a fourmonth term to eliminate an estimated $ 8.5- million deficit in a $ 250- million budget and improve medical care in Gatineau.
Martin St. Louis, a spokesman for the Agence de la santé et des services sociaux de l’Outaouais ( Outaouais regional health agency), which provides the budget for the Gatineau health care centre, said management of the Gatineau medical service was disorganized and plagued by serious financial problems.
“ A major change was needed in Gatineau and a new general manager is now in place,” Mr. St. Louis said. “ During the next four months, Mr. Chicoine will get the financial situation straight and make sure that the people of Gatineau get the services they deserve.”
Denis Saint- Jean, a spokesman for the health and social services agency defended the agency, saying parts of the report that blamed the administration for the chaos in the health care system were exaggerated. He said 90 per cent of the recommendations in the two reports have already been implemented.
Mr. Saint- Jean said the agency will balance its budget in 2007. He said health care management will spend money more efficiently, but won’t cut service.
“ Wait times in emergency rooms have been improved since May,” Mr. Saint- Jean said. “ Very few people wait more than 48 hours to be admitted into hospital, but Mr. Chicoine says we can still do better.
“ One of our major problems is our shortage of nurses and the overuse of agency nurses. A normal nurse earns $ 30 to $ 40 an hour, while a nurse from an agency receives $ 60 an hour.”
There will be a freeze on new hiring and the employment of private nurses who replace nurses who are ill or on vacation. The hospitals will look for ways to reduce absenteeism among nurses and plan to treat more psychiatric patients in the community to relieve pressure on emergency rooms and reduce costs. The Ottawa Humane Society says it hopes to have revised operational policies in place by December that will assure residents it provides the best services to dogs in its care and to the community at large. The move follows an incident this summer that found the society at the centre of a storm of controversy after putting down a stray dog that had failed a behaviour test, although a couple wanted to adopt the animal they’d found roaming at large.