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Minor changes expected at County’s hospital

The County’s hospital is expected to be spared in Quinte Health Care’s proposal released Wednesday to issue 39 layoff notices for union positions from among the four hospitals.

Prince Edward County Mayor Robert Quaiff was told proposed changes do not involve any immediate plans to eliminate beds or services at PECMH.

“We have been reassured the proposed changes will result in very minor staffing impact at PECMH,” he said.

Quaiff noted the County is sympathetic to changes coming to Trenton, Belleville and Bancroft, but added the County has had more than its fair share of cuts over the years. Picton’s hospital has gone from 42 beds at amalgamation in 1998 to 12 in 2015. Last year it lost nine beds as part of QHC’s bid to erase a $7 million shortfall.

Cuts to Registered Nurse (RN) positions said to be 30 full-time RN positions and 28 part-time RN jobs (including some vacant positions) are proposed to be offset by Registered Practical Nurses and Personal Support Workers (PSWs).

MPP Todd Smith addressed the legislature this afternoon and spoke of 10 per cent (58) of the nurses being axed. He said the government is moving toward more services back into the community. “but the numbers don’t back that up either, a spokesperson for the nurses at Hastings Manor and other long term care facilities in the community said these facilities are understaffed and the government has said ‘don’t expect any more money.” (See video below for more)

Meetings between QHC and union leaders from ONA, OPSEU, SEIU and Unifor were held over the last two days. QHC provided detailed information on the proposed changes and how they impact staff at the four hospitals. Union leaders have a few weeks to provide suggestions on how the plans could be altered to help minimize the impact to individuals.

The Ontario Nurses Association warns dozens of RN cuts at Quinte Health Care would result in patients falling through the cracks.

“You will hear that services will not be affected, but you cannot cut the 88,000 hours of RN care from the community and expect that patients won’t be affected, no matter the platitudes that emerge from hospital leaders,” said Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN, and ONA President.

Haslam-Stoud said Quinte Health Care is cutting RN care from its medicine units at the Trenton, Belleville, Bancroft and Picton sites.

“Cuts are coming in the intensive care unit, where the most vulnerable and complex patients receive care, the operating rooms, emergency department, rehab, medical day care, diagnostic imaging, and post-anesthesia same-day surgery units,” she said. “In fact, almost every service will be losing RN care hours.”
“Study after study has shown what a false economy cutting RNs turns out to be, not to mention bad for patient health outcomes,” said Haslam-Stroud. “Every extra patient added to an average nurses’ workload means a seven-per-cent increase in the risk of patients suffering from complications and even death. Conversely, studies show that adding more RN care leads to better health outcomes for patients, and a reduction in re-admissions to hospital.”

Offers of early exit and retirement packages are being offered in affected areas first, said Mary Clare Egberts, QHC president and CEO. “As always, our goal is to manage this as much as possible through avenues like attrition, retirements and reassignment opportunities where applicable so that we can minimize the number of our valued staff members who need to leave QHC involuntarily,” she said.

“While we support the new funding formula as the right long-term solution for our health care system, we also appreciate that these changes can be extremely difficult for everyone at QHC,” she said.

Over the past there years there has been a total of $20 million in cuts by QHC. Changes, Egberts notes, follow the changes in the province’s funding framework for health care.

The corporation is facing a $12 million shortfall in its 2015-16 budget. Cuts of $7 million had been planned and a further $5 million in cuts were to be made before last Friday’s $3.5 million in one-time funding from the Ontario Ministry of Health. Egberts said that money will allow QHC some reprieve for public and staff consultation to “find the right long-term solutions for health care delivery in our communities.”

Quinte Health Care has 1,800 staff members and 320 medical staff to a region of 160,000 residents served by four hospitals – QHC Belleville General Hospital, QHC North Hastings Hospital, QHC Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital and QHC Trenton Memorial.

The draft plan goes to QHC’s board March 24, at BGH. Directors are to approve the final plan in April.

In today’s news release, key proposed changes include:
Key Proposed Changes for 2015/16

Inter-Professional Model of Care
·        There will be a shift towards a more team-based model of patient care across all of QHC’s hospitals. This means that Registered Nurses (RNs) will have a larger role in care planning; discharge planning; patient and family teaching and counseling. Registered Practical Nurses will care for appropriate patients within their level of training and expertise, which includes patients with more complex needs.  More Personal support workers (PSWs) will be available to help patients with their activities of daily living and mobility. Physicians, allied health professionals, and other team members are also be included in meeting the patient and family’s needs. This change will mean reduced numbers of RNs in the organization, but patients will receive more direct care hours through the added RPN and PSW support.

Inpatient Beds
·        As previously announced, the South East LHIN is funding a 20 bed Behavioural Support Transition Unit (BSTU) at BGH as a South East LHIN regional resource
·        Reducing beds at BGH based on streamlining patient flow; opening of the BSTU; and reduced utilization of paediatric beds. This also includes reducing inpatient surgical beds to implement an enhanced model for pre-surgical assessment and a surgical short-stay unit

Administration and Support
Efficiencies across numerous support and administrative areas, in some cases through staff scheduling changes; removing vacant positions; or reducing the number of positions (e.g., Materials Management, Infection Control, Professional Practice, Security, Health Records, Information Services)
·        Staffing changes and more efficient workflow in Housekeeping, Maintenance and Food Services at BGH and TMH to be consistent with similar hospitals
Ensuring appropriate utilization of drugs, imaging and lab tests through a “Choosing Wisely” campaign
Reduced positions in management and clerical that were announced in December.

Filed Under: Local News


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  1. Wolf Braun says:

    Watched an interview yesterday on with Vernon Jordon, civil rights activist during the ’60s on the 50th Anniversary of the march to Selma from Montgomery Alabama. It struck me when Mr. Jordon said “Government is a reacting entity. It is not an initiating entity” … hence the voter rights act implemented by President Johnson that enabled people of color to vote.

    The Ontario Government will only react when sufficient numbers of all (rural) Ontarians participate in the saving of our (rural) hospitals. It’s up to all of us to speak loudly about our passion for our health care.

  2. Argyle says:

    There is still a long way to go to guarantee PECMH long term viability as a hospital. In all reality, there is not much left to cut, our local hospital has taken its fair share of cuts by QHC in previous budgets. If anything it would be nice to see some services or beds restored. That would be something our local politicians could chirp about.

  3. Susan says:

    We now have a new Susan posting the first two comments. She appears to support the approach.

  4. Susan says:

    Ahhh..perhaps the co-operative support of Mayor Quaiff and Council played a huge part of today’s decision. New Council, different approach, better results. Hmmmm!

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