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Bed cuts, staff cuts, and privatization drive hospital crisis in Niagara

Here are some of the comments at a Health Coalition town hall meeting earlier this week about the problems at the Niagara Health System hospitals (as reported by the Welland Tribune):

John Degazio, a former housekeeping staff member at Welland hospital, recalled trying to draw attention to problems with the cleaning of hospital rooms after staffing levels were severely cut in the early 2000s. He said he recalled seeing bed linens that were supposed to be clean, with blood and feces stains on them. "At the end of it all, I was forced to leave (my job) for bringing up stuff that was contrary to people's health," he said.

Retired nurse Nancy Gladman said more than a decade ago, before cuts, there were enough beds to isolate patients with potentially contagious diseases. "It's just a mess," Gladman said. "Really, I wouldn't advise anyone to use any hospital in Niagara run by the NHS."

Registered nurse Cindy Forster, a Welland regional councillor and an NDP candidate in this fall's provincial election, said when a private company took over housekeeping duties at the hospital, staff were required to scour patient rooms in 20 to 40 minutes. It should take up to three hours to do a "terminal clean," she added, referring to a complete cleaning of a room.
Forster said recent efforts to increase public confidence in the health system will be fruitless, unless changes are made. "You cannot bring back any confidence to the public if you cannot provide timely quality care and improve the front-line situation for workers," she said.


  1. While the urgent care centre (UCC) is great for minor ailments, it will not look after serious or emergency care. More importantly than that it is likely the UCC will not likely be 24/7 after March 2012. The doctors who staff the UCC get paid by the Minister of Health. Their funding arrangement with the MoH expires March 2012. If it is not renewed, the doctors will likely no longer staff the UCC and the Niagara Health System (NHS) will use that as an excuse to reduce the 24/7 UCC to 14 hours.

    Pat Scholfield


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