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Funding goes to fixing aging infrastructure, rather than patient care, say Windsor officials

Posted: February 26, 2020

(February 25, 2020)

By: CBC News Staff, CBC News

Hospitals in southwestern Ontario received more than $3 million in funding to maintain hospital infrastructure, like roofs and air conditioning systems — but officials at Windsor Regional Hospital believe the money could be put to better use. 

Area hospitals recently received special funding to upgrade aging infrastructure — but officials at Windsor Regional Hospital believe the money could be put to better use.

Hospitals in southwestern Ontario received more than $3 million in funding to maintain hospital infrastructure, such as roofs and air conditioning systems.

Windsor Regional Hospital’s Ouellette campus used its money to upgrade controls on an old chiller. It’s so old, parts for the original controller are no longer available.

“We’re doing the things we need to in order to keep the building functional”, said John Faber, manager of facilities at Windsor Regional Hospital.

He added the infrastucture deficit at the Ouellette campus is “somewhere in the range of $45 to $50 million.”

Even then, there’s no room for more tables in the cardiac catheterization labs — or “cath labs,” as they’re often called — because there’s no room for the air handling units that go with them.

Replacing obsolete equipment also comes with hidden expenses, such as costs to bring the equipment up to code.

The ceiling tiles in some of the hallways at WRH’s Ouellette campus are lower than they should be because the hospital has had to make room for things which were not originally intended to be there.

“All the infrastructure issues that we have with our boilers, chillers, electrical rooms, air handling units — if those were all replaced tomorrow and they were all brand new, we still have an old facility,” said WRH’s manager of corporate services and capital planning, Kevin Marshall.

Marshall added similar problems exist at the hospital’s Metropolitan campus, and said the money could be going toward patient care.

The auditor general of Ontario just did a report that said eight billion dollars is being unnecessarily spent in P3 models versus public, so that money could be spent in patient care and making sure that services are delivered.

– Tracey Ramsey, Ontario Health Coalition

However, former NDP MP Tracey Ramsey, who now works as a labour co-chair for the Ontario Health Coalition, said newer hospitals, which also carry maintenance costs, are being funded through a public-private partnership model.

“The auditor general of Ontario just did a report that said $8 billion is being unnecessarily spent in P3 models versus public, so that money could be spent in patient care and making sure that services are delivered,” said Ramsey.Even though PC and Liberal governments are funding new hospitals through the P3 model, Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj said “the government of the day” will determine infrastructure costs for the city’s new mega-hospital, when it’s built in seven to 10 years.

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