Bottom line is quality health care
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.