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Ontario Health Coalition could make formal complaint about restructuring at NHH

Posted: January 18, 2016

(January 18, 2016)

By: Valerie MacDonald, Northumberland Today

NORTHUMBERLAND – The Ontario Health Coalition is questioning the way proposed hospital changes are being handled at Northumberland Hills Hospital (NHH).

“How can they approve a document that the public hasn’t even seen?” Ontario Health Coalition executive director Natalie Mehra said in an interview.

Mehra said she will be investigating the way the Central East LHIN is handing the hospital review and there “could be a formal complaint launched” about the restructuring process at NHH “for violating the legislative requirements to consult.”

Mehra stressed that “keeping documents secret to control public reaction is just wrong.”

Details of the second NHH Improvement Plan have yet to be made public but are anticipated early this week, although a spokesperson says the LHIN, whose board passed the plan, has no intention of releasing the consultant’s report and those recommendations on which it is based.

The LHIN also put the brakes on making public the hospital’s plan to release the first draft plan.

This is the second HIP the hospital has provided to the LHIN, which is its funding body. The first draft following the consultant’s recommendations continued in the Haye Report created at the LHIN’s direction was in the process of being made public when the LHIN put that staff and public disclosure process on hold. That initial draft has never been made public.

Asked about making public the consultant’s report now that a second HIP has been endorsed by the LHIN, Northumberland Today was told that “the LHIN has no plans to release the Haye Report.”

LHIN spokesperson Katie Cronin-Wood explained in an interview Friday the reason is that there is a level of information of a third-party nature containing confidential information. When asked for more details, such as whether this was due to legal, property or information about personnel, Cronin-Wood replied that “it could be any of the above.”

One-time funding of about $1.65-million is being provided by the LHIN to address the local hospital’s operating and capitol budgets for 2015-2016 (ending March 31, 2016) plus restructuring costs, Cronin-Wood said.

Asked if the restructuring part of the funding was for hospital staff severeness and payouts, Cronin-Wood said that was a question for the hospital to address – but at this time there is no further comment from that body on the plan’s details.

Meantime, NHH spokesperson Jennifer Gillard told Northumberland Today that internal hospital staff will receive details of the approved second plan before a press release is issued about the Hospital Improvement Plan (HIP) early this week. At the same time the plan will be published on the hospital website, she said.

The hospital has been asked to “accelerate integration” because there are significant cost savings associated with that, Cronin-Wood said. What this means exactly to the hospital has not been explained but a “concrete action plan” is to be provided by NHH to the LHIN’s April board meeting, according to a media release.

The LHIN also states in a release it “contemplates no reductions to (the hospital’s) current volumes or types of services, will now being working collaboratively with its physicians, staff, volunteers, patients and others, to pursue improvement initiatives in five key areas: including enhancing board governance and management; utilization efficiencies; clinical efficiencies; operational efficiencies and integration.”

Local riding MPP Lou Rinaldi said he was pleased a plan had been reached between the two parties that will retain services in the community for constituents.

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