One nurse's experience with privatized food: if it ain't in the contract...watch out

Here is an account sent to me by an Ontario nurse of her experience with contracted out support services in her hospital.  I've removed the name of the company. 

"I just learned that  if something is not mentioned in the (company) contract, the company does not have to do it.  

"In our hospital, patients transported from outside the community will have a single escort with them.  There is a hostel that houses and provides meals for escorts.    When we get a sick child usually only one escort comes with them.   The escort stays in the room with the child and we would provide the escort with a meal tray.   

"Recently (the company) put a stop to it and said they would only supply trays to escorts of children 1 year old or less.  The other escorts would have to go to the hostel to either eat or get a meal ticket, everyday.  As nurses we could not believe an escort of a 2 year old would be made to leave the hospital to either eat or get a meal ticket and go to the hospital cafeteria.  We did not feel this was safe for the child left behind alone.  When we took our concerns to our nurse manager, he said (the company) could do that, if it is not in the contract.  

"We replied, (the company) works for the hospital and the hospital should make them do it.  He made it clear  (the company) does not work for the hospital, they are contracted to provide management services, they do not answer to the hospital.  He did say it was something that could be looked at when the contract was up for renewal.  For us that was not good enough.

"Subsequently, we were able to get meals once again delivered to the escorts, but we had to make it a political issue just to achieve safe, responsible care. 

The nurse goes on to note that she is particularly concerned because a "political party running in Ontario in our next election wants to contract out support services."



  1. What bothers me the most about this (besides the immediate context) is that this shouldn't even be a "left-wing" thing -- this is more of a "this is stupid and ill thought-out" thing. I consider myself a moderate -- I often land on the left-wing side on issues, but not always. More and more, though, it seems to be less and less about left or right and more and more about logical versus illogical, humane versus inhumane. Whether or not an escort requires a meal has nothing to do with how old the child they are escorting is. The policy makes no sense from the get-go. Technically, it could happen in a non-outsourced situation too, but the main thing is that the letter of a contract are being put above logic.

  2. Yeah -- this shouldn't be a left-wing/right wing thing. But I do think it is going to be hard to avoid in a contacting out situation...