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Have your say on hospital concerns

While the clock is ticking down for suggestions for solutions to Quinte Health Care’s impending multi-million dollar debt, communication continues, but its effectiveness remains unknown.

PEC Mayor Peter Mertens says consultation with the family health team is key thing for the County as “involving our local doctors will lead to a better recognition of our needs that will further lead to solutions that hopefully meet all of our needs.”

The physician members of the Prince Edward Family Health Team (PEFHT) have provided QHC with several alternative proposals but have not received analysis or substantive response to any of them. PEFHT represents 23 physicians in the County.

“QHC can continue to incorporate suggestions up until February 19 on how the current proposals should be changed, so that updated proposals can go to the February 26 QHC board meeting,” said Susan Rowe, director of communications, in a press release. “Once the board of directors has endorsed the proposals, QHC will formally engage its union partners with the proposed plans through the staff planning process.”

Rowe said QHC has heard overwhelming pride from the community and concerns about changes.
“One common misperception is that these proposals will mean more people will need to travel for their health care services. For almost all of the proposed solutions, current health care services will remain in the local communities, but may not be delivered in a hospital setting anymore. This is in line with the Ministry’s Action Plan for Health Care.”

Dr. Elizabeth Christie
President PEFHT

The perception of losing key services at Picton hospital, is reality, says Dr. Elizabeth Christie, president of the PECFHT. “To say that patients will not have to leave the community for services is simply untrue,” she said, pointing to the three most drastic cuts for Picton – maternity, endoscopy and nine of 21 beds.

“Abandoning obstetrical care in Picton will not only mean expectant moms will have to go to Belleville for their deliveries, but they will also have to go the Belleville for all of their prenatal care for the last three months of pregnancy.  There were more than 200 visits to Picton hospital by pregnant women last year for pregnancy related matters, and all of these people will also have to go to Belleville,” she said. “The proposal to cancel the endoscopy program at Prince Edward Memorial Hospital by definition means that patients will have to travel to Belleville for all endoscopy procedures.”

Christie says the bed cuts at Picton are untenable and that QHC has no means of “ensuring” services are available in the community.

“QHC is a hospital;  community services are in the community.  The hospital is full to overflowing much of the time.  And this despite a group of physicians who work collaboratively with one another as well as many community based organizations such as the Community Care Access Centre in effort to keep people out of hospital.

“As our population ages, we know we are going to need more, not fewer, beds, so cutting the beds – which really means laying off the nurses – now makes no sense. Where they could look inside for savings, to positions that provide no actual patient care, they are choosing to cut all important clinical nursing positions, leaving valued members of our community out of work, and patients without adequate care.”

As the County’s senior population grows (Mayor Mertens confirms we are the second highest aged community in Ontario) the PEFHT continues to work on innovative projects including the ministry’s new Health Links program being designed to bring primary care providers together with other health organizations including hospitals, CCAC, mental health programs and hospice programs.

“Every one of the initiatives currently on the table are the expansion or copying of programs or proposals currently operated or planned by the Prince Edward Family Health Team,” said Christie. “And that demonstrates the ingenuity in this community, and enthusiasm to expand beyond the bridges to help other communities.”

Christie says the PEFHT has been a leader in community-based services that has already had a real impact on emergency room visits and hospital admissions.

“QHC is making misguided choices,” said Christie. “To think that there will be any real community based change consistently in place within a year from now is naive.  It takes time for programs to be tested and implemented, and it takes a long time to get more nursing home beds.”

In its press release Thursday, QHC states it has implemented an in-depth process to gather input and other creative ideas and are still finalizing proposed solutions and working with physicians and staff to refine proposals.

“While we have heard from many people that would like hospital-based services to remain as they are today, the entire health care system in Ontario is undergoing a transformational change, more profound than most of us have experienced in our long careers,” said Dr. Dick Zoutman, QHC Belleville Chief of Staff. “These changes are necessary to maintain the quality of care we all expect the health care system to deliver over the long term.”

And while QHC expects to continue to receive feedback, “We we do need to continue to work towards the start of our fiscal year on April 1, when our further funding reductions come into effect,” said Rowe.

QHC announced in fall 2012 that the anticipated financial gap between expected revenues and expenses could be as high as $10 million for its fiscal year that starts April 1, and could climb by an additional $5 million in future years.

Rowe explains this is driven primarily by a change to the hospital funding formula which will lead to substantial decreases in QHC’s funding for the foreseeable future. QHC’s board expects the hospital to operate within a balanced budget and the Local Health Integration Network is required by law to ensure that all hospitals balance.

Meanwhile, Mayor Mertens is demonstrating council’s support for Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital by publishing requests to encourage the public to share concerns about how Quinte Health Care’s proposed changes will affect the delivery of health care services in the County.

“While we recognize the need to adapt and ensure fiscal responsibility, we are discouraged at the way QHC is proposing to resolve their funding challenges,” said Mertens, noting their proposal does not recognize the impact service changes will have on the patients themselves.
“Council stands behind PECMH and the community it serves. A reduction in hospital services would negatively impact not only the local economy and health care services, but the overall quality of life of County residents.”

Support PECMH

Click the advertisement above for direct email links and an easier-to-read version to print off.

For individuals who do not wish to draft a letter of their own, copy and paste the text below and include it in your emails, letters, or use it in your telephone conversation.

I am writing to let you know I am concerned about proposed changes to Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital because of the severe and detrimental effects they will have on our community. I am requesting that adequate time be provided to conduct the fulsome consultation with our local Family Health Team, the medical community and the general public. Opportunities for innovative savings are being overlooked at Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital. More consultation is necessary to ensure that essential services are not being eliminated before adequate supports are in place, creating risk for our community and costs for system.

Mary Clare Egberts—President and CEO, QHC
265 Dundas Street East, Belleville, ON K8N 5A9
T: 613.969.7400 x 2400, F: 613.969.0486
Brian Smith, Chair—Board of Governors, QHC
c/o Kathryn Noxon, EA to Board of Directors
265 Dundas Street East, Belleville, ON K8N 5A9
T: 613.969.7400 x 2199, E:
Paul Huras, CEO —SE LHIN
Andreas von Cramon, Acting Chair — SE LHIN
71 Adam Street, Belleville, ON K8N 5K3
T: 613.967.0196, F: 613.967.1341 Toll Free: 1.866.831.5446
Todd Smith, MPP— Hastings-Prince Edward
PO Box 575, Belleville, ON K8N 5B2
T: 613.962.1144, F: 613.969.6381, Toll Free: 1.877.536.6248
Queen’s Park Address:
Room 357, Main Legislative Building,
Queen’s Park Toronto, ON M7A 1A8
T: 416.325.2702, F: 416.325.2675, E:
Hon. Deborah Matthews—Minister of Health and LTC
Hepburn Block, 10th Floor, 80 Grosvenor Street
Toronto, ON M7A 2C4
T: 416.327.4300, F: 416.327.3679
Kathleen Wynne—Premier Designate and Leader,
Liberal Party of Ontario
c/o Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing
17th floor, 777 Bay Street, Toronto, ON M5G 2E5
T: 416.585.7000, F: 416.585.6470
Andrea Horwath—Leader, New Democratic Party of Ontario
Room 113, Main Legislative Building, Queen’s Park
Toronto, ON M7A 1A5
T: 416.325.7116, F: 416.325.2770
Tim Hudak—Leader, PC Party of Ontario
Room 381, Main Legislative Building, Queen’s Park
Toronto, ON M7A 1A8
T: 416.325.8454, F: 416.325.0998, E:

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  1. Laid Back says:

    Egbert’s needs to take a rollback in pay….that’s all there is to it!!!

  2. Treat Hull says:

    I encourage everyone to support the Mayor’s appeal and contact QHC to express your concerns about the cutbacks proposed for our hospital.

    For what it’s worth, here is the letter which I sent to QHC CEO Nary Egberts earlier this week:

    Dear Ms. Egberts

    I am writing as a resident of Prince Edward County to express my concern about the proposed service reduction at Picton Memorial Hospital. The availability of accessible healthcare services is a key to the vitality of a community such as the County.

    Prince Edward County has the highest proportion of seniors in its population of any census unit in the province. The County also ranks in the lowest three counties in the province in terms of average personal income. It is not a stretch to assume that much that poverty falls on the back of seniors.

    For low-income families from the County with a senior family member who requires extended hospitalization, the movement of services from Picton to Belleville will be a major barrier to regular visits and support. For many of the elderly, driving to and from Belleville to support a loved one will represent a significant challenge. For those who might otherwise take a taxi, the $80 plus cost per round trip will be beyond the reach of many…if they can find a taxi in Belleville who consents to take a fare to the County. Moving services from Picton to Belleville will mean that low-income patients will receive significantly fewer visits and reduced support from family members at the time when they need it most.

    I believe that the proposed service reduction at the Picton Memorial Hospital will ultimately result in an increased mortality and shortened life expectancy for low-income seniors from the County. While I am sure that this is not your goal, I believe it will be the inescapable result of the reduction in service which you are contemplating.

    Treat Hull

  3. m york says:

    Over many years many organizations, companies etc., have outsourced (to try to save money) but it dosn’t work!!!! Everyone has witnessed this first hand but it continues to happen,WHY???? It cost the taxpayers so much money and it effects everyone negatively.When do we stand up and say enough is enough, after we have lost more of these services?

  4. Marnie says:

    Our hospital once had a laundry too but that work was outsourced as well. What do we really save with these moves? If our hospital is reduced to just 12 beds we might as well let the patients order from a take-out menu at Gus’s. It would probably be just as cheap in the long run.

  5. mary e Grimmon says:

    I have not read where anyone has addressed the meals being brought from Ottawa to picton. we have a great kitchen at the hospital, stainless steel etc. how much do we pay for the service? make work for more county residents, I have heard nurses bring in meals and say not very good but all we got. who wants a fried egg done in ottawa adn delivered to Picton. or toast for that matter. Our cafateria was well used when it was available. we have already invested in the kitchen utilize it.

  6. Melanie says:

    Excellent article! My concerns were identified and expressed well by others. We must support the continuation of “our local” hospital. We are getting lost in the centralization of services and of funding. Bigger is not always better.

    I hope our citizens will rise to the occasion and send letters and emails to support appropriate consultation on services needed in our community.

    I have sent emails to most listed and have only received a response from Todd Smith MPP Hastings-Prince Edward. Thank you Todd for listening!

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