LINDSAY, ON — Piece-by-piece health services once available to Lindsay residents at Ross Memorial Hospital (RMH) are being moved to the Peterborough hospital or “quietly, silently being eliminated altogether,” says Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU)/CUPE.
Hospital staff are concerned, says Hurley that the most recent rash of “hospital service cuts will compromise current patient care levels and undermine the future of the hospital down the road. Hospital staff want local member of provincial parliament (MPP) to speak out against the cuts and protect the community hospital.”
These latest round cuts include the closing of one operating room and nursing cuts in the fracture clinic, continuing care and a crisis mental health program. Also the specimen and pathology lab is being closed and moved to the regional hospital in Peterborough. A move, says Hurley that will slow down test results in potentially life threatening emergencies, because currently there is no computerized, electronic system for lab results.
“Even though the hospital has kept the cuts a secret, surely the MPP must know about them. Why is she silent? She was once a practicing nurse,” says Helen Fetterly, OCHU secretary-treasurer, herself a nurse for nearly 40 years. “Laurie Scott knows the impact hospital service cuts have on patient care and outcomes. Ms. Scott needs to speak up and demand a stop to the cuts and that the Ontario Liberals provide the level of funding Ross Memorial needs to deliver care not cuts. Her silence is akin to tacit approval of cuts to patient care, Fetterly says.
For the last four years the Ontario government has frozen hospital budgets. “This has meant more than 4 per cent a year cut for hospitals when inflationary costs, like the price of drugs and medical technologies, are factored in. This drop in real terms to its budget is happening at a period when hospitals’ catchment population is growing and aging and demanding more acute hospital care,” says Hurley.
The province is aggressively moving to further merge hospital services into regional hospital catchment areas such as, the Peterborough Regional Hospital.
“Across Ms. Scott’s constituency hospital services are being cut very deeply and patients from Lindsay will be travelling to Peterborough to get medical care they once accessed at the local Lindsay hospital. Something you can’t do without a vehicle because there is no public transit between Lindsay and Peterborough. It is time for this member of provincial parliament in her opposition role to speak up,” Hurley adds.
The Ontario legislature resumes next week and all indicators are that a provincial budget will follow in early March.
“We are asking to meet with our MPP because we need her to be vocal on a reinvestment in hospital care before the provincial budget is released,” says Maggie Jewell, president of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 1909.
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