KAWARTHA LAKES-The Kawartha Lakes Health Coalition (KLHC)and the Ontario Health Coalition say they are very concerned about proposed changes to the governance at Ross Memorial Hospital.
“I’m particularly concerned because when we first met with the hospital they said this is just housekeeping, modernizing the language. It is not housekeeping, it fundamentally changes the act. It changes everything. said Natalie Mehra, Ontario Health Coalition.
The Ross Memorial Hospital Act became law in 1903. According to the Health Coalition the original legislation had unique protections built into it that specifically prohibit the hospital from being amalgamated, changing this legislation opens the hospital up to that very prospect they say.
The act has been amended twice over the past 109 years but in 2020 Ross Memorial tried to make significant changes according to the coalition. That process died when the legislature was shut down due to the pandemic.
Now the hospital and MPP Laurie Scott have revived the process.
At an emergency public meeting held on Zoom on Tuesday night the KLHC raised specific concerns with three areas where changes are being proposed.
The first is the issue of Community Board Members. The hospital currently functions on a community governance model with more than 700 community members on the board. The new legislation proposes eliminating the community members to become a self-appointed board as the members elect the board. According to the coalition the hospital didn’t ask for the consent of members nor did they notify members that they were bringing back this legislation.
MPP Laurie Scott held a press conference to announce funding for Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon today and told Kawartha 411 News the hospital board will continue to have community members.
“The board members are based on modern skills based members, right now its got 12 independent board members it will continue to include patient and family members as well as members that have individual skills.”
The second issue is the wording of the proposed new act which eliminates the requirement of the board to run a “hospital” according to the coalition.
The new wording states:
“The object of the corporation are:
(a)to establish, equip, staff, maintain, operate, conduct and manage a hospital OR health facilities with programs and services that MAY include, without limitation,
(i) active treatment programs and services,
(ii) programs and services for chronic care, complex continuing care or community health,”
Zac Miller, KLHC says the fact that this wording does not include a provision for acute inpatient care services and it uses wording such as MAY and OR is very concerning.
“This means they could choose to run a hospital OR health facilities,” Miller explains.
“They are eliminating the requirement to be an actual hospital,” says Mehra “If they don’t have an Emergency Department or acute care services it’s not a hospital.”
Scott says there are no plans to reduce services or amalgamate.
“The act keeps having to get amended as the names of community organizations for example that they work with so its time consuming process, so it’s updating their special act and it just follows what the majority of Ontario hospital boards operate as. Scott said. “We have increased services at the Ross memorial Hospital, increased operating base by over 20%, increased their infrastructure by over $2million dollars in upgrades. we upgraded a new OR so they could actually have more operating facilities.”
The third issue raised by the Health Coalition is the proposed changes would allow the hospital to make changes to the act in the future without going back through the legislative process.
Officials with the Health Coalition want the wording of the new act changed so that it states the hospital must continue to be run as a hospital with acute care services, they want the community board members to stay and feel any future changes should go through the legislature. They are encouraging residents to write to the hospital and to MPP Laurie Scott today and demand these changes.
The act has already reached second reading which will take place on April 28th and could proceed to third reading and pass next week.
Mehra says residents need to act quickly to save the hospital. She points to recent changes in Welland Ontario where there’s a proposal to stop ambulances from taking patients to the ED and move the ED and acute care beds to Niagara Falls.
Angela Zangari, Niagara Health Vice President told the St Catharines Standard in 2020 only limited outpatient surgeries will be performed in Welland once the new hospital is opened in Niagara Falls. Without emergency surgery, the emergency department at Welland hospital will be replaced by what Zangari described as “emergency services.”
“It’s emergency services, so it’s a little bit different from an emergency department,” she said. “So for Level 1 from a triage perspective, ambulances would not be going there – I don’t want to say ever – but the intent is that they wouldn’t go there, because there wouldn’t be the ability to do emergency type of surgery.” Zangari said in 2020.
Mehra says the timing of the act is suspect and she feels they are trying to slam it through before the election.
“In the last days of this govt they are trying to push through this bill, to me it raises a lot of red flags.”