Morally offensive, but legal. Where have we heard that?


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NOTE: Posting the online edition of the Oct. 29 City Scope was intentionally delayed today to allow a rebuttal from Malcolm Hopkins, vice-president of corporate services. It can be found at the end of the column.

Based on letters to the editor over the past week or so (with another to print early next week from Malcolm Hopkins, vice-president of corporate services) the move to circle the wagons around hospital CEO Paul Collins is in high gear.

Of particular note is correspondence this week from Bryan White, a member of the STEGH transition team, who complains, “facts are being twisted or misrepresented.”

We’ll respond with what has already been stressed in this corner — any misunderstanding and misinformation has been self-inflicted by Bruce Babcock and the board of governors.

Remember, the orignial retire/rehire shuffle in June, 2010 was hidden from the public and even hospital staff until this corner shed light on it earlier this year. If the five-year extension is such wonderful news today, why the secrecy and utter contempt for the front-line hospital staff?

White goes on to note the practice of double-dipping is legal, but may be morally offensive to some (keep that thought in mind for a moment or two). If you find it so, advises Whie, then call newly elected MPP Jeff Yurek and demand changes to the law.

Well, a faithful reader and former hospital employee, did just that and this individual passed along a copy of her letter to Yurek. Here are the highlights:

“I am responding to the latest editorial in the paper re: the STEGH and I am demanding changes. Mr White suggested we call you but I thought I would write it out instead.

“If Mr. White ran his own business as Mr. Collins has run STEGH he would not be in business very long,” our reader challenges.

“I strongly disagree that Mr. Collins has done an amazing job. He has cut rehab, kitchen, laundry and other essential services to ‘save’ money and still he runs a deficit with fewer than 90 beds.”

Our reader-in-the-know is only getting warmed up.

“We have less than 60% compliance with handwashing and failed to notify patients or the public for days when we had an outbreak of a deadly infection.”

This is in reference to the recent MRSA outbreak the hospital dealt with quietly.

Continuing on the questionable logic of a new logo, our reader notes, “They do have a new logo to replace the old one, but there is now a fundraising drive on to buy a very essential bed for neonatal that could easily have been purchased with the money spent on the new logo, perhaps even two. Again not a good business decision.”

Lost in the euphoria of the $100-million hospital refurbishment is the original proposal for desperately needed mental health beds.

“We, as a community,” continues our frustrated reader, “are saddled with his grand plan for a $100 million addition, when we could possibly be accomplishing the same goals, meeting the community’s healthcare needs and especially meeting the mental healthcare needs of the community for much, much less by utilizing already empty beds.

“Sadly we read today that it is a 200-day wait for mental healthcare in this area. How many individuals does that put at unnecessary risk?”

Our reader concludes, “I personally have spent the last two years waiting for many different levels of care for thyroid cancer, so I personally find the monetary waste, sense of entitlement and poor management distressful.”

Now back to the observation double-dipping may be morally offensive, however it is legal.

Hmm, isn’t that the banner of justification Wall Street executives waved as the pillers of finance crumbled in 2008?

BUSES A BUST
A near miss Wednesday as the newest member of the city’s bus fleet went up in flames and was totalled in a matter of minutes.

Trundling the streets for a scant three months, the burnt out hulk was ignominously towed to the city works yard while cause of the blaze is determined. Meantime, the other two members of this order from U.S. manufacturer Arboc Mobility are parked awaiting a determination.

It was a near miss for the city. The bus was entirely engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived on the scene, four minutes after receiving the alarm. Luckily there were no passengers aboard the ill-fated vehicle.

However for John Dewancker, director of environmental services, to tell the Times-Journal there was “ample time to leave the bus,” may be overly optimistic.

These vehicles are equipped to accomodate wheelchairs and to have two or three such passengers safely exit the bus amidst the flames and thick black smoke evident at the time is pushing the safety window.

Remember these three vehicles (a fourth is on order) replace the woebegotten excuse for buses the city purchased in 2008 that were a maintenance nightmare.

All of which calls into question the city’s policy of purchasing exotic vehicles that are an add-on to some other transit operator’s order in an effort to save money.

These last two purchases appear to have negated any such benefit.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“This is very odd, very awkward situation. The bus is barely three months old . . . “

John Dewancker, city director of environmental services, after one of St. Thomas Transit’s newest vehicles was totally destroyed by fire Wednesday.

REBUTTAL FROM MALCOLM HOPKINS

HI Ian:
What I find morally offensive is that Cityscope continues to print letters which are simply untrue – and Cityscope must know, or should have known, that this is the case. Maybe that’s the way to sell papers – I guess that’s the style of journalism that News of the World used to practise, but it hardly does the hospital or the community justice.

So the latest Cityscope:

cut rehab – no the Ministry of Health stopped funding outpatient rehab

cut kitchen – no we run a modern food services, on site with great feedback from patients.

cut laundry – no, laundry services are still performed better than ever in partnership with London Linen Services far more cost effectively than on site

cut other essential services – pray tell me which?

still runs a deficit – what nonsense! The hospital has not had a deficit for five years and is not planning to, difficult as that may be. Its actually against the law!

with fewer than 90 beds – the hospital is licensed for 166 beds and is currently operating 146 beds with the capacity to surge upwards as required. Come and count them!

handwashing – the stats continue to improve and no we did not have an outbreak. MRSA is prevalent in the community and we take all effective precautions to deal with it in cooperation with Public Health.

Come on – at least check it out for yourself rather than believe each hostile, uninformed letter that comes across your desk!

And by the way – you might be pleased (ah probably not as its a positive story!) that the hospital has just won for the second year in a row the coveted OHA/Ministry of Health Quality Healthcare Workplace Award – platinum level. That’s the highest award a hospital can get – something must be right about Paul Collins’ leadership and the folks we have working at STEGH.

City Scope appears every Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be e-mailed to: mccallum@stthomastimesjournal.com.

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One thought on “Morally offensive, but legal. Where have we heard that?

  1. ARBOC MOBILITY BUS RECALL DUE TO FIRE RISK
    Dewancker describes the bus fire as very odd and very awkward. Are the buses equipped with Penn Tex 200 amp alternators? The reason for asking is that a similar situation occurred late last year in the USA that led to a recall of accessible buses due to a potential fire risk. The buses had been manufactured in an Arboc Mobility joint venture.

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