By Mike Williscraft
Not many people know about this, but I’ve got a good buddy who works for the Maple Leafs.
He just told me the Leafs traded Mitch Marner to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Sidney Crosby and they thought this would only be a good plan if Wayne Gretzky came out of retirement just for one year.
Of course this is all horse pucky, but it had just as much chance of happening as Hamilton Health Sciences’ “plan” connected to the closure of obstetrics services at West Lincoln Memorial Hospital.
This passage from Andrew Smith’s opinion piece pretty much nails the crux of HHS’s dereliction of duty.
“Initially this seemed to be a logical solution to the facility issues but key to this strategy is the hospital’s ability to ‘hand off’ emergencies that could develop during childbirth, if the single OR (operating room) was unavailable, to neighbouring healthcare facilities,” noted Smith.
“Rather than iron out the details of this hand off before moving forward with renovations, the renovations began. Now, a few days before the OB is to reopen, we have a patient care crisis on our hands.”
I have noted in this space many time in the past year that HHS management – either through ignorance or mismanagement – have botched pretty much every approach they have taken with WLMH since the ill-fated architect’s report was spun out of control by HHS CEO Rob MacIsaac with the citing of the need for a 27-month closure of operating rooms for renovations.
As we now know, the report did not recommend anything of the sort. In fact, it was carefully and specifically noted ALL the work needed could be done around regularly scheduling of the ORs using a few weekend closures with a handful of those being extended closure to get the work done.
From that point on, everything has spun out of control on a consistent and ongoing basis with – working in the background – absolutely no level of success in hiring OR nurses to staff an appropriate roster level.
There is FAR more to the mismanagement of this situation than these two simple samples. Magnifying all those issues is the simple matter of poor decision making.
Make absolutely no mistake. For me and anyone else in the community, we are all on board with having a safe facility and improving the current facility to get to appropriate medical standards to bridge the time gap until we finally, on hands and knees, get to the WLMH rebuild completion.
To get there, and have something more than a shell left, the time has come for the Province of Ontario to step in and assign a supervisor to over oversee the WLMH file.
There is a lot of precedent for provincial governments bringing in supervisors. It happened with Niagara Health Systems in 2011.
Now that was the full meal deal with Kevin Smith being assigned and taking NHS over.
With HHS, that level of intervention is not needed.
HHS has done some good things, just not at WLMH.
In this case, a supervisor should be brought in to manage this file and genuinely work towards appropriate decisions and not ones which do every single thing possible to dismantle the unquestioned heart of the facility in its beloved obstetrics services.
HHS needs to have its powers suspended immediately. It is that simple.
In seeking comment from the Ministry of Health on this latest debacle, I got this:
“The ministry respects Hamilton Health Sciences’ authority to make independent decisions about its operations, so long as these decisions uphold and protect sustainable access to quality care and ensure patient safety,” said Hayley Chazan, senior manager, media relations for Christine Elliott, Minister of Health.
“Most low-risk obstetrical services will be temporarily relocated to other nearby hospitals as the hospital makes long overdue renovations. These upgrades will ensure the safe return of all services as quickly as possible.”
Motherhood, to be sure.
HHS should be able to make autonomous decisions except when it has displayed a wanton lack of ability to hire staff, manage timelines and troubleshoot.
I repeat, it is either a plan to dismantle WLMH’s OBS or ignorance of how to manage the site.
For these reasons, a supervisor is needed posthaste!