Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. On Tuesday, Elgin county council met with Bruce Babcock, St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital board of governors chairman, and following the closed-door session, unanimously approved a resolution calling on the board to recruit a replacement for hospital President and CEO Paul Collins within a year.
“Elgin county ratepayers have expressed concerns with the contract of the recently retired hospital president and CEO,” advised Elgin Warden Dave Mennill.
“It’s is council’s considered opinion that the public’s perception of the circumstances . . . are irrevocably tainted and will negatively impact fundraising efforts.”
Keep in mind the city, county and the community at large must raise $12 million as part of Dalton McGuinty’s hospital revitalization promise.
The board of governors responded Thursday by thumbing their nose at the county, while Collins insisted he’s staying put for at least five years and the community should instead worry about digging deep and financially support the hospital.
Now, the county is not the only voice of concern about the negative implications of Collins putting his financial well-being ahead of the hospital.
The newest member of the board of governors, Ald. Sam Yusuf, is on the record with his observation, “(Collins) has done great work for our hospital, but fundraising will be an issue if he does stay on to be CEO.”
Yusuf knows of what he speaks — he sat on the hospital foundation board which is charged with community fundraising.
Will Yusuf introduce a resolution similar to that of Elgin county council at Monday’s meeting of city council?
As the council representative on the hospital board of governors, he is responsible for protecting the interests of city ratepayers.
Mennill couldn’t have been more succinct when he warned a shortfall in community fundraising will ultimately result “in a higher than expected campaign contribution from municipal coffers.”
The only fly in the ointment — the city would have to deal with a double-dipper closer to home in Bob Wheeler, general manager of the St. Thomas Economic Development Corporation.
This corner has been accused (most recently by hospital foundation board member Allan Weatherall) of being overtly negative about the hospital and Collins.
So, for the remainder of this edition of City Scope, I will turn the keyboard over to a couple of prominent community supporters for their input.
“It doesn’t seem to matter if the county and city have reps on the hospital board,” observes former mayor Peter Ostojic.
“It doesn’t seem to matter what these reps say. So, why not just take representation off the hospital board. I think the hospital board needs to look at themselves in the mirror.
“What I’m hearing in the community,” Ostojic continues, “is if Paul Collins remains as CEO it will strongly jeopardize the fundraising.
“I’m annoyed. My family and my company are prepared to give a donation to the hospital . . . but don’t shut out public opinion and expect me to give you a cheque. It ain’t happening.
“If you’re talking a five-year deal with Paul, there are a lot of people in the community with deeper pockets than I have and they’re telling us they’re holding on to their cheques and some people have six-figure cheques.”
Community booster Bob McCaig is even more outspoken.
“People are furious (with the Collins’ contract). Maybe the county warden should say, ‘maybe we can go another five years without doing anything. We’ll relax and we’ll get around to it (financial contribution to the hospital) when he (Collins) gets around to leaving the hospital. ‘ And that’s exactly the way I’m going to look at it. Don’t bother calling me for money, it’s over.
“The sheer arrogance and entitlement is beyond belief,” McCaig continues. “The hospital is suffering absolutely because of that sheer arrogance and entitlement by a few. And their attitude is, ‘we don’t care. We couldn’t care less what you think. We’ll do what we damn well like and you have to go for it because you have to have a hospital.’
“They (the province) should send someone in to run the hospital and run the damn thing according to the people who are paying for it, not according to some well-heeled people who live in Port Stanley and decide they’re going to call the shots and the rest of the people can go to hell.”
Is anybody over in the ivory tower on Elm Street listening to these hospital boosters who are fed up with the sheer arrogance and entitlement?
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I guess it was a bit of a surprise. I didn’t anticipate this.”
St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital President and CEO Paul Collins reacts to a resolution from Elgin county council this week calling on hospital board of governors chairman Bruce Babcock to begin the process of seeking a replacement for Collins.
City Scope appears every Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow @ianscityscope