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Decimation of Picton and Trenton hospitals was the plan since 1998

I read with sadness in the Belleville Intelligencer that “Following meetings with three unions Wednesday, Quinte Healthcare management announced an overall reduction of 82 full and part-time positions across three of the networks four hospitals with 40 of those cuts affecting Belleville General Hospital. Trenton MemorialHospital will shoulder 30 cuts and.PECM Hospital faces nine cuts.”

Clearly Trenton and Picton are much smaller than Belleville hospital and are shouldering a much larger percentage of the staff cuts. This comes as no surprise to me and many others who have been following local healthcare for the last 15 years.

Make no mistake. The government has always had a plan to decimate our local hospital and many other rural and small hospitals.

In 1998, as I was about to retire after working 30 years at our local hospital, I remember a conversation with our  surgeon Dr. Earle Taylor. We were both of the same mind that we had been forced into amalgamation and it was only a matter of time before Belleville would swallow us up. Sadly this prediction has come true.

In 2002 while attending a QHC board meeting, Eleanor Lindsay MacDonald and I watched in disbelief as each each board member raised their hand endorsing cuts to four major services at PECM. Once again QHC had a funding shortfall. There was a huge outcry from the stakeholders so the then Minister of Health George Smitherman eventually sent in a consultant to look at the governance of QHC. I remember the consultant, the late Scott Rowand, saying that his friend the deputy MOH had asked him to do this investigation. Hearing this I knew why PECMH had not come out in a favourable light in this report.

Just before Smitherman released the Governance report at the Crystal Palace in 2006, Rick Conroy of the Wellington Times said to me that he had just read the report and it was obvious to him that the Ministry of Health wanted our hospital to be scaled down to the level of service and capacity of North Hastings in Bancroft.

Interestingly enough, that day Smitherman said that PECMH had a very bright future. Scott Rowand called our hospital the ‘Jewel in the Crown’. I think perhaps Paul Huras and the SELHIN did not receive these memos. At PECMH we eventually lost the Lab, Special Care Unit and a number of beds and the nursing that went with them. One of Rowand’s recommendations was to remove the mayors from the QHC board. When amalgamation came into effect in 1998 part of the agreement was that each community was allowed to have their mayor sit on the board.

From the onset of amalgamation in 1998, QHC had a governance system in place in which stakeholders were allowed to purchase memberships. At that time you were allowed to attend the AGM and vote for individuals who were running for the QHC board. Some of us placed application forms in various locations throughout the County encouraging residents to become a member of the QHC Corporation. That year the membership rose to around 700 from about 100 the year before. Even though PrinceEdward County represented approximately 20 per cent of the stakeholders the representation in the QHC Corporation was very high. The headline in the Picton Gazette in an article written by reporter Jason Parks read 74 per cent. It was obvious that the stakeholders controlled the vote at the AGM. This would certainly prove to be a problem for QHC and the Ministry of Health and would have to be dealt with at some point.

The other problem for the MOH and QHC was the presence of the mayors on the board. They of course would speak up if cuts were proposed at their respective local hospitals. This action could not be tolerated. We of course didn’ t have to wait long. In early 2009 then MOH David Caplan sent in supervisor Graham Scott to oversee QHC. On the day that he arrived he dismissed the volunteer QHC Board and the democratically elected membership. He chose to retain CEO Bruce Laughton at a salary of approximately $270,000.  Laughton retired the next year with a handsome payout. At a press conference held by Supervisor Scott he was asked by the Times’ Rick Conroy if he felt that his appointment by the MOH was a conflict as it was he who formulated the QHC amalgamation back in 1998. Mr. Scott said he didn’t feel conflicted.

Over the next year he replaced the QHC board with a no-elected board. that he worked for almost one year. He was able to obtain extra funding for QHC. Mr.Scott earned $2,700 per day for this assignment

In February 2013, on the Lorne Brooker show, Paul Huras stated that over the years, QHC got more than their fair share of funding. I don’t need to remind you as taxpayers that all of these salaries came out of the public coffers. Shortly before Graham Scott left, Mary Clare Egberts was hired as the new QHC CEO in early 2010.

Fast forward to 2012/2013 QHC communicates to their stakeholders staff, etc. that they must make cuts due to a shortfall of $10 million (maybe more).

The final nails are now being driven into the coffins of PECM and Trenton Memorial hospitals. You may ask why I write this article. It is to share with you that some of us who have followed local healthcare very closely knew that there was always a plan to cut our services disproportionably from PECMH and Trenton.

I will leave you with a quote that I feel very adequately describe ours relationship with QHC. In his comment in the Feb 27th Wellington Times, Rick Conroy states “PECMH and TMH are not partners in QHC. They are lunch.”

-Fran Renoy

Filed Under: News from Everywhere Else

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About the Author: Fran Renoy has lived in the County for forty years so considers herself almost a native. Both she and her husband Bill consider themselves very fortunate to live in beautiful Prince Edward County. She worked at PECM hospital for thirty years as a x-ray technologist,retiring in 1998.She has a very strong passion for her local hospital and encourages others to speak up and not be afraid to do so if they feel that services are being eroded.

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  1. Wolf Braun says:

    Government is not democracy ! People are democracy !

    We the people have allowed democracy to be controlled by politicians at all levels of government. Politicians have moved away from anything that ever resembled government for the people. Not only in Canada but in most western societies. It’s up to ordinary Canadians to take back democracy.

    People need to begin discussing what they want as the PURPOSE and PRINCIPLES of government to be. Once we come to agreement on purpose we can then demand that our elected politicians and bureaucrats work towards such agreed on purpose. Only then can solutions, to difficult issues like our hospital, be made. All decisions must be in synch with the purpose and principles developed and implemented by the people. Politicians should not be allowed to ignore what we want them to do for us.

    To start a discussion on PURPOSE, let me throw out the following as a start…

    ” The sole purpose and main task of politicians is to serve “ALL” people and to fight injustice. ”

    BTW, this is not a new idea. This is how democracy was started… “by the people”. Thoughts?

  2. Jan says:

    I wish a group of financial experts/accountants would volunteer to approach the retired CEO of the Napanee hospital for advice on how he was able to convince the Ministry of Health to leave Napanee as a stand alone hospital. I’m sure he could give the County some excellent advice and suggestions. This would be a more concrete proposal to our situation than wearing protest buttons!!

  3. Doris Lane says:

    Jan as you say we have a termendous group of people living here with a great bank of knowledge. retired from big cities with great knowledge.
    The other day a gentleman told me there is a shadow council–sounded like good people in it
    Whether we can get our hospital back is another story–we should have been like Napanee and never let it go.
    We used to have large bequests at one time. There was a Benson bequest that was large and we could only use the interest. I think their is a foundation of some sort that still controls such things.
    When I moved away in 1980 I was on the hospital board but when I came back in 1998, all h— had broken loose. I do not have the background knowledge of what really happened but I know there are some who do.

    We need to go back to when it happened and work from there. I know a few names of some people who have a lot of the knowledge

    As in everything you need to go back in History and start from the instigation of this horror called QHC andthen build a case for why it should never have happened

    As in other things the government just moves in and bulldozes its way into our lives–like taking down fish shanties–they never hurt anyone -someome i Ottawa just had an idea. As steveCampbell says stop the insanity(they might ot be his exact words)
    I guess they have to be stopped before they take the bulldozer to what we have,

  4. Jan says:

    Is there not someone in Prince Edward County capable of proposing a plan to
    de-amalgamate from QHC and send it to the Ministry of Health? We have so
    many intelligent people who have moved to the County recently. Is there not
    someone with an accounting/financial background who could investigate how
    Napanee was able to convince the Ministry of Health to leave them alone. It is
    time we stopped talking and got this underway!

  5. dave gray says:

    meeting at wellington united for hospital protest went well,60 people showed, will keep you informed.

  6. Lorna Kelly says:

    Thank you once again Fran for sharing facts that many of us need to know. Perhaps it would be helpful to forward your well-written account to Ontario’s Minister of Health, who also may need to have a look at how unfairly Prince Edward Memorial Hospital has been dealt with since Amalgamation. It could just lay some groundwork for the proposed idea of seeking De-Amalgamation !

  7. Marnie says:

    Whatever happened to democracy in Ontario? The people’s voice counts for nothing these days. In our county the fishermen’s cottages at Long Point are being demolished in arrogant fashion, wind turbines have been approved for Ostrander Point in the face of very strong opposition and now we are losing our hospital. Why bother to vote? What we want for our county means nothing to government and perhaps this is the most alarming loss of all.

  8. Doris Lane says:

    It has always been Belleville’s plan to get rid of Picton. I will say we do not need Belleville.
    Look at the number of hospitals along the 401 corridor, Cobourg, Trenton, belleville, Napanee, Kingston.
    Then we have people at Pt petre who are miles away from anything
    Someone suggested they should have built a mega hospital around Brighton on the 401 and that would have done away with everything but Kingston.
    How come Napanee which is so close to Kingston and belleville has been allowed to expand.
    Oh well Picton haas always been considered a backwater toBelleville by the belleville people

  9. Neil Garvin says:

    The government is the people. The people cannot run hospitals at the same time they are funneling billions to their friends through frauds like E-Health and ORNGE, even with the new Health Tax brought in by the Liberals. The people must have decided that they condone these frauds since they re-elected McSquinty and his gang.
    There will be no change in the way the governments operate until there is a concerted, unrelenting outrage expressed by the people.

  10. Vic Alyea says:

    Fran – you are so right about everything! Thank-you! The Mike Harris/Hudac gang started it with their “tax cuts/amalgamation” policies in the ’90s and the Liberals were too chicken to reverse Conservative bad policies . Who do I vote for to change things? The NDP are silent on the issue of our hospital becoming a first aid center. I’m sure others are as frustrated with politicians of all stripes as I am.

  11. Marnie says:

    If we ever believed it would be otherwise we were naive. They were from the government but they were not here to help us.

  12. Samantha says:

    That pretty well sums it up, doesn’t it. It may have taken 15 years, but it looks like the original bandaid station plan for PECMH will be coming to fruition now. At the time, many people predicted that this would be so while hoping that they would be wrong. And every few years it would seem like our little “Save Our Hospital Get-togethers” would cause a bit of backtracking, but in the end all that effort, passion and commitment seems to have gone nowhere. Sad. Stupid. Predictable.

  13. Doris Lane says:

    Great report Fran. It is too bad we can not go back to our orginal hospital and get rid of QHC.
    We could start up the laundry and the kitchen and take back most of our beds.
    Egberts thinks patients only need 5 or 6 hour of nursing care after a serious procedure,so they can just go home and the let the family care for them but in most cases family is not capable of giving nursing care. We the people of the County spent many hours and made enormous amounts of money to build OUR hospital. We do not want to be shipped off to Belleville if we become ill. We thought we were building something that would be available to us in our declining years..Guess not as we are being left with nearly nothing.

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