6/21/13

Hospital restructuring picks up (but very quietly)

Community pressures to preserve small hospitals:  Local opposition to hospital cuts has driven Prince Edward County residents to demand that their local hospital be allowed to break away from the multi-site Quinte Health corporation.

This is becoming a more common community demand as small hospitals trapped inside much larger multi-site hospital corporations are particularly vulnerable to cuts. At worst, their ongoing viability is threatened.

As expected, there is no appetite for such proposals at the mother house. Health Minister Deb Matthews has written back declaring that "de-amalgamation" is not under consideration (while, at least, also offering assurances that the government is committed to all sites in the Quinte Healthcare Corporation.)

Government pressures to merge: Indeed, the direction of the government is very much in the opposite direction. The Central East LHIN has just announced that two large hospitals, Rouge Valley and Scarborough, will proceed with stakeholder engagement to determine the benefits of a merger.   A report is due in October. 

Scarborough Hospital Board member Lyn McDonell told the Scarborough Mirror, "We felt strongly that merger seemed to be the (option) that had the most potential." 

Scarborough Hospital president Robert Biron added that as the province forces hospitals into “a more competitive model” those in Scarborough need a way to “obtain our fair share”. “We’re much better positioned if we do that together.”

Complex Continuing Care and Rehabilitation on the down slide: Small hospital cuts continue elsewhere, with 15 complex continuing care beds reported to go in Ingersol and Tillsonburg.  

This is part of a broader trend in Ontario hospitals where fewer complex continuing care and rehabilitation patients are being treated (even while the overall number of  patient cases is increasing, due to increases in other areas of care).  

In the most recent year reported, Ontario hospitals provide 53,963 fewer "weighted cases" of complex continuing care and rehabilitation compared to two years earlier.  That is a reduction of 2.9% -- or 360 fewer weighted cases per hospital. 

More on the changes in the nature of hospital services in a future post.  

Photo: Tim Suess

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