Bot­tom line is qual­ity health care

The Southern Gazette - - EDITOR’S VIEWPOINT - Ge­orge Macvicar, Edi­tor/man­ager

East­ern Health Pres­i­dent and CEO Vicki Kaminiski sparked con­tro­versy last week when she an­nounced 550 jobs were be­ing elim­i­nated at the au­thor­ity over two years. It’s part of an ef­fort to save $43 mil­lion.

She told a press con­fer­ence East­ern Health was at the bot­tom of an ef­fi­ciency scale, when com­pared to other health au­thor­i­ties across Canada. She em­pha­sized though front line work­ers would not be af­fected. But how do you elim­i­nate 550 po­si­tions through at­tri­tion, not re­hire lost work­ers and expect the qual­ity of your ser­vices to pa­tients will not be af­fected?

Al­ready pa­tients (com­monly re­ferred to now as ‘clients’ or ‘con­sumers’ by th­ese au­thor­i­ties – it es­sen­tially elim­i­nates the per­sonal ap­proach to health care) are im­pacted as RNs work 12-hour shifts and then are called back to work more shifts on days off af­ter their ini­tial 3-4 shifts sched­uled each week. This, in part, has con­tributed to the high level of sick leave and over­time be­ing in­curred by East­ern Health.

Th­ese pro­fes­sion­als are well trained and very ca­pa­ble in their abil­i­ties, but af­ter reg­u­lar eight hour shifts fa­tigue is a con­cern es­pe­cially when th­ese shifts oc­cur daily. It doesn’t make any dif­fer­ence which pro­fes­sion it is, fa­tigue re­duces ef­fec­tive­ness of work­ers.

From ex­pe­ri­ence, the im­pact of a cen­tral­ized kitchen in the St. John’s re­gion means less than qual­ity food de­liv­ered to pa­tients for their reg­u­lar meals. Drop­ping 15 pounds dur­ing a re­cent 10-day stay, re­quir­ing surgery and re­cov­ery time, is tes­ti­mony to the qual­ity of food pro­vided.

Even pa­tients un­der­go­ing ma­jor surg­eries are ex­pected to be ri­fled through re­cov­ery to open up beds for a sec­ond ‘client’.

Now cafe­te­ria and laun­dry fa­cil­i­ties on the Burin Penin­sula are be­ing im­pacted with last week’s an­nounce­ment by East­ern Health.

Credit is due though to the im­prove­ments be­ing in­sti­gated in penin­sula health care fa­cil­i­ties, to up­grade avail­able ser­vices. A great deal of the fund­ing needed though comes from the com­mu­nity it­self, through do­na­tions such as those co-or­di­nated with the re­cent Kin and Friends health care ra­dio­thon re­al­iz­ing over $90,000.

What con­cerns res­i­dents is, how will they be able to take ad­van­tage of th­ese im­proved ser­vices if ad­e­quate staff is not pro­vided to op­er­ate this equip­ment?

An ex­am­ple is the men­tal health ser­vice ‘safe room’ at the Burin hos­pi­tal com­pleted last Novem­ber but not to be avail­able for use un­til this fall when staff is trained.

A sim­i­lar de­lay oc­curred with the kid­ney dial­y­sis unit in­stalled in Burin.

True, ef­fi­cien­cies need to be found in the de­liv­ery of health care. Users them­selves re­al­ize this too. But cut­backs to im­prove the bot­tom line is not what health care is all about.

Health care de­liv­ery is not meant to show a profit, un­like Tim Hor­ton’s out­lets that should of­fer their own ‘Mi­das’ touch.

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