All County, All the Time Since 2010 MAKE THIS YOUR PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY HOME...PAGE!  Saturday, December 9th, 2023

It’s all about the Loonies

Steve Campbell

Steve Campbell

I have a problem with the LHINs. Okay, that’s not true. I have several problems with the LHINs.

I will admit, up front, that I did not have the time to attend the meeting held by the LHIN in which they tried to explain what they actually do. I count on reports by news reporters, who are paid to listen to BS for hours on end, and translate it into non-bureaucratic language that morons like me can understand.
I was once a reporter, so I knew it was pointless to actually appear in person to ask these questions, and then dive into a rabbit-hole of vague responses designed to avoid the heart of the questions.
So, based on what I hear, and what I read, I have a backpack full of questions. So here’s my take on the situation:

First: For those of you who are so healthy you don’t need or care about health care, the LHIN is an acronym for Local Health Integration Network.
Already I’m upset, because this title was obviously chosen from the McGuinty/Wynne Big Book O’ Important-Sounding Words. Local? Well, it covers south-eastern Ontario, so it’s about as local as my cousin in Ottawa I haven’t seen in 20 years. Health? I’ll deal with that later. Integrated? With what? The Ministry of Health? Sick people? Hmm … quite a puzzle. Networked? Again, with whom? Patients? I think not.
This is why it upsets me more, to read statements by the LHIN Board that they want to interface (network?) with the public to find out (and I paraphrase) “What we’re doing well, and what we can do better.”
This is government-speak for “We don’t want criticism.”
The question they should have asked is: “Does anyone in the room know what we do, why we are necessary, or why we draw enormously fat paycheques, while squeezing every last penny out of ‘local’ hospital services?”

I would dearly like to appear, if only to tell them what they are doing well. Except I honestly don’t know what they do, other than to act as a buffer between the Minister of Health and angry patients, dying people, and ex-health care professionals.

But, in one news report, they pointed out that they did not have the authority from the provincial government to actually do anything that might serve the health care institution. But legislation is pending, to allow them to build another level of bureaucracy that will fix that right up.
Whoa! Let’s back that horse up a bit. Google tells me that an unspecified number of LHIN members receive over $100,000 per year. And they tell us that they don’t have the power to implement some vaguely-stated changes that might possibly improve the system?!
Man, that’s a sweet deal if you can get it. Sign me up, and I’ll prep myself for the interview:
“And Steve, what can you do to help improve health care in Ontario?”
“Absolutely nothing.”
“Okay, so far so good. Do you really, really need $100,000?”
“Quite seriously, I do. And I might die if I don’t get it, so by hiring me, you’ve already saved one life in Ontario, and paid off a whole pile of hookers and some gambling debts.”
“Great! Welcome to the team!”

Seriously, if the LHIN has a job, it is to watch the accounting balance sheets. It’s all about saving loonies, one cut after another. Just heard that cafeteria services have been eliminated from Picton and Quinte West. And this follows even more tragic cuts in services and professional nurses and staff.
Clearly, this has nothing to do with providing health care. A provincial government which has built an almost $3 billion debt (larger than all the other provincial debts combined) is suddenly stricken with a great need to tighten the purse strings. And what great timing! We knew the baby boomers were going to grow old, and live longer, back in 1960. Now we’re here, and for some reason, it’s a freakin’ surprise!

I hope the LHIN doesn’t take this as a criticism, but I would rather the whole bunch give up their jobs, and use the cash to hire back the nursing staff. Or they could learn how to cure cancer. Or empty bedpans, change sheets, and work right at the bedside with people who desperately need their help.
This is why LHIN is pronounced ‘LIN’. Because the Health part is silent.

If it’s possible for me to feel sorry for people who make $100G+ per year, I know they are tasked with building a ‘sustainable’ health care system. Sadly, governments only know one way to do it: by building more and more bureaucracies.
The Price Report, a document leaked to the media by concerned doctors, proposes a new level: Patient Care Groups. PCGs will open health care to a networked system of doctors and health care providers. In theory, you can go to any medical practitioner for your health care. Sounds good? Think about it.
Trouble is, as some reporters have surmised, rural Ontario does not yet have the system in place to create this kind of open network, much less run it seamlessly. Typical cart-before-the-horse mentality for this metrocentric government. And it didn’t escape my notice that part of this new level of bureaucracy will monitor the billing of doctors. Once again, all about the loonies.

Hate to say it, but this is what happens when you take the operation of health care out of the hands of the medical professionals, and give it to politicians, bean counters, boards and civil servants. Really, would you like to fly to Jamaica on a plane built by these people? (“Nice! By only using two rivets on this panel, we saved 85¢!”) Or would you rather buckle your belt in a machine that’s built by skilled engineers?

On the good side, I heard a radio report on emergency wait times in Ontario hospitals, and our own PECMH came out first in shortest wait times! Probably because nobody is sure they’re still open.
I know we’re all waiting with bated breath on the new spectacular Picton hospital, which is slated to open about 10 years after I’m dead. But the good part is: I hope to live long enough to outlast the Wynne government. And then, maybe, I can die knowing that proper health care has been restored to the County.

Filed Under: News from Everywhere ElseSteve Campbell

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  1. Fran Renoy says:

    Brilliant as always Steve.
    You manage to say what many of us are thinking but add some humour to your thoughts.
    No surprises that PECMH was number 1 in Emergency Dept. wait times across Ont. That is one of the reasons that in a patient survey conducted a few years ago our local hospital was chosen number 1 out of 147 hospital across Ont.
    I have the strangest feeling Steve, now that you have reported that statistic more QHC stakeholders and others will be flocking to the PECMH Emerg.
    If that does in fact happen I think perhaps the short wait times will be no longer as QHC will be reducing nursing staff as of April 1st.

  2. lou says:

    excellent written article. Enjoyed reading it and had a smile.(and a laugh too at the humour)
    thank you

  3. Fred says:

    The debt is edging $300 Billion. Wish it was $3.

  4. Fred says:

    Which government made the fatal cut Steve and amalgamated hospitals?

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