Ontario municipalities press government on bed shortages as Liberal MPP takes the heat

The Cornwall Standard Freeholder reports that the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) has established at its annual conference a committee with representatives of municipalities from all over Ontario to deal with the shortage of beds for long-term health care patients and lobby the provincial government for help.  (This sounds connected to some work by municipalities at the AMO conference reported earlier.)

Cornwall mayor Bob Kilger said the AMO is putting a document together to incorporate feedback from municipalities all across the province with similar problems. Then the committee will meet with stakeholders, such as hospital officials and government representatives. Councillor Sid Gardiner added the committee should make  progress as it puts pressure on the provincial government with the weight of 90% of Ontario municipalities.

Meanwhile the cuts continue.  After the closure of the adult diabetes clinic at the Northumberland Hills Hospital (NHH) earlier this year, now we get word that the monthly children's diabetes clinic run by the Peterborough Regional Health Centre at the NHH  is being closed.  Patients will have to travel to Peterborough now (if they can). 

When asked about the specialized clinic's loss from the local hospital, the NHH CEO replied that the "NHH has not been informed of any changes to this clinic."

The government's master plan for 'integration' and 'seemless care' might need a little more fine tuning. Especially as the government makes a big deal of bragging about the virtues of its 'Ontario Diabetes Strategy'.   (If this is how they deal with priorities...)

So it's not so surprising that not everyone is pleased with the government's health care performance in Northumberland.  Here's a blistering letter from one person concerning the performance of local Liberal MPP Lou Rinaldi:

Mr. Rinaldi, the LHINs and Ontario's Ombudsman
Northumberland Today; Thu Aug 19 2010; Page: 4; Letter to the Editor

At all costs, the premier and the Liberal party want to hold the riding of Northumberland- Quinte West. Their problem is that they have done major damage to the Northumberland Hills Hospital through the overbearing and secretive operation of a Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) which they created.

The government sees no way of finding the money to rescue our essential services, but they do think it possible to rescue Mr. Lou Rinaldi. So it is that we have a feel-good announcement concerning emergency services at the hospital. It is an attempt to buy back on the cheap the affections of an otherwise outraged electorate.

The Ombudsman of Ontario has just released a report on the behaviour of LHINs in the Niagara region, describing secret meetings dubbed "education sessions" for its members as "illegal" and suggesting that the same practice is found in all other LHINs. There can be no doubt that the LHIN in our region has failed utterly in its duty to be transparent and responsive to the community.

The LHINs exist to give political cover to a government that will not properly fund our health care. The Ombudsman observes: "Unfortunately, while it is true that as a result of the LHIN model, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has been able to distance itself from difficult decisions surrounding the integration and funding of regional health services, the reality of community decision making has fallen far short of the political spin."

An expert at political spin, Mr. Rinaldi has remained somewhere above or below the fray as many of his constituents have sought to preserve their hospital. It is time for him to admit that the system of LHINs is a pernicious failure. If the premier will not hear his protest, he should leave the caucus. If he is unwilling to make such a protest, he should leave politics altogether.

Richard Greene Cobourg

Now this should help up the pressure to maintain local services.  Two thumbs up for Mr. Greene!


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