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QHC cuts to coincide with rally

Posted: October 22, 2015

(October 22, 2015)

By Ernst Kuglin, The Intelligencer/Trentonian

BELLEVILLE – The process of laying off dozens of unionized staff employed by Quinte Health Care will begin at about the same time as hundreds of people protest hospital cuts at Trenton’s Centennial Park.
Quinte Health Care will begin notifying unions on Nov.12  beginning with physiotherapy and occupational therapy staff who belong to OPSEU, according to an anonymous source.
A day later (Friday, Nov. 13) SEIU will be notified by QHC officials on how the cutbacks will affect union members employed in patient registration.
On the same day, QHC is expected to meet with the ONA. It’s not known how many registered nurses will lose their jobs. The same goes for personal support workers and employees working in reprocessing/sterilization who are members of UNIFOR.
That’s the same day hundreds of people are expected at Centennial Park for a rally organized by the Ontario Health Coalition and Our TMH.
Busloads of health care workers and people from across eastern and central Ontario will be at the rally to protest hospital cuts.
More than $11 million in spending will be slashed by QHC management, resulting in the layoffs of at least 50 staff. That was the figure provided by QHC officials earlier this month during a press conference in Belleville.
Most of the job losses will be felt at Belleville General. It’s not known how many jobs will be lost at Trenton Memorial.
Services will be restructured at hospitals in Trenton, Belleville, Picton and Bancroft.
QHC senior communications director Susan Rowe confirmed meetings with the unions have been scheduled for mid-November, but did not provide exact dates.
Rowe said more information will be released following the meetings, adding managers continue to go through the process of looking at how the cost saving measures will impact jobs.
Trenton Memorial would keep some surgeries and ambulatory services, along with inpatient beds and diagnostics. It will also gain Belleville’s complex continuing care department, which will increase from 18 beds in Belleville to 20 in Trenton. TMH will lose six acute care beds.
TMH will also lose the bulk of its surgery resulting from a plan to relocate equipment reprocessing (sterilization) to Belleville General. About 2,400 day surgeries a year will move from Trenton to BGH.
Our TMH has demanded the provincial government put a moratorium on the cost cutting measure until an independent steering committee is formed to review recommendations of the Brighton-Quinte West Health Services Advisory Committee.
At a press conference earlier this month, QHC officials said a recommendation to create a Trenton Health Centre will, for the most part, get an endorsement from QHC.
But that’s not sitting well with Our TMH chair John Smylie. He said there’s a big difference between a health centre and hospital.
“Our ultimate goal is to get our hospital back,” said Smylie.
Smylie and officials with the Health Coalition said shifting complex continuing care beds to Trenton is nothing more than a smoke screen because the province has plans to move those beds to outside facilities. The same goes for some of the surgical services to be retained at TMH.
Smylie and Our TMH has also taken aim at the QHC board of directors.
“We are wondering when the QHC board will stand up and collectively say they can’t balance the budget without affecting services at TMH and the other three hospitals. The board needs to get a backbone. They never question what they are being told,” said Smylie.
An observer, who did not want to be identified, said “it’s obvious the board has known the plans for some time” and will likely rubber stamp the changes despite the QHC’s community engagement process.
– With files from Luke Hendry

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