Simple fun or homage to violence? Zombies stir debate

Oh my. Where’s the skate park you promised? Why are we paving over paradise in Pinafore Park. All that money to lay down a few hundred feet of railroad tracks and erect a replica station. And now . . . zombies.
Bryan Bakker is a nice sort of guy. Cares about the city and its employment prospects. That’s why he ran provincially for the NDP in 2003 against Steve Peters.
A 2003 bio posted on the Ontario Secondary School Teacher’s Federation website even notes Bakker “is an active supporter of Amnesty International.”
He’s an organizer of the St. Thomas Tom Zombie Festival planned for later summer that is geared to local teens. Continue reading

Filling vacant seat will be a true test of this council


When city council next gathers at city hall on May 6, the seat previously occupied by Sam Yusuf will officially be declared vacant. Council will then have 60 days, under the Ontario Municipal Act, to appoint a new alderman.
It’s an undertaking that has been dealt with several times in the past decade or so, however T-J reporter and People columnist Eric Bunnell reminds us of the fascinating parallel he wrote about in April, 2000.
Helen Cole had announced her resignation and council met behind closed doors to unanimously agree Jeff Kohler should fill the vacancy.
He was the third runner-up in the 1997 municipal vote, however the top vote-getter of the also-rans, Terry Shackelton, had already moved on to council and the next individual in line, former alderman Hugh Shields, declined the appointment.
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An Open Letter to the St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital Board of Governors Regarding the Outsourcing of Medical Transcription

The following letter is from Stratford-area health care advocate Frances Simone regarding the hospital’s decision to out-source its medical transcription services. She has also created a petition urging the hospital to re-consider the decision . . .

On May 22, 2013, STEGH plans to lay off all of its in-house Medical Transcriptionists and outsource their jobs to Accentus. STEGH is making a poor decision that will harm staff and put patient care at risk.

I have contacted Mr. Paul Collins, CEO to discuss this matter and have received no response. As a result, this letter is directed to the Board of Governors and the community of St. Thomas.

The community of St. Thomas deserves to know the facts rather than the public relations spin. Accentus is not an Ottawa company, it was owned by New York based High Road Capital Partners, a private equity firm, and BMO Capital Corporation since 2009. In a merger and acquisition deal closing in November 2012, Accentus was sold to Nuance Communications. Nuance Communications is a multinational corporation headquartered in Massachusetts, whose CEO earned $37,077,679 million total calculated compensation in 2012.
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Something fishy about the police headquarters vote


Just call them the king and queen of the flip-flop. We’re talking, of course, about Ald. Lori Baldwin-Sands and Ald. Mark Cosens and which way they will lean Monday night when city council votes on the latter’s motion dealing with a new police headquarters.
Last week, Cosens filed a notice of motion that the city “build a new, modern, state-of-the-art police facility” adjacent to the Timken Centre.
The wording of the motion is a flip-flop-flip for Cosens.
We’ll elaborate.
Continue reading

The new reality when STEGH outsources transcription services


“We’re in financial devastation.”

That’s the stark assessment of a medical records transcriptionist who, last year, lost her job at a London hospital when it was out-sourced to Ottawa-based Accentus.

It’s the same firm hired by St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital to handle its transcription services, resulting in the loss of four full-time and an equal number of part-time jobs effective May 22.

With 12 years medical records experience in various capacities, the London transcriptionist, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals, has been an independent contractor for Accentus since last November, when nearly 50 transcribing jobs were axed at two hospitals.

She works out of home, earns about $400 every two weeks and receives no benefits or sick time.
Continue reading

I’m sorry, your patient care has been out-sourced


It’s an atmosphere that has been described as poisonous. A department where the director is accused of harassing, bullying and belittling a long-time employee who, as a result, is now absent from the workplace on stress leave.
A situation where an individual charged with the financial welfare of a $110 million corporation is in flagrant and repeated violation of that organization’s respect in the workplace policy
What is shocking is the venue – the treasury department at city hall – and the actions of city treasurer Bill Day have put CAO Wendell Graves and human resources director Graham Dart between a rock and a hard place.
And, no matter what action they deem necessary, it could cost St. Thomas ratepayers dearly.
Continue reading

2013 Public Sector Salaries, Elgin/St. Thomas health sector

Salary figures released March 31, 2013 for 2012 – (2011 salary in brackets).


BATTAGLIA DR. DONNA Pathologist $341,668.89 ($125,961.48)
CATTRYSSE SHARON Chief Nursing Executive /Officer $130,348.87 (new)
COLLINS PAUL President & Chief Executive Officer $205,569.00 ($205,569.00)
FERIZOVIC HANUMKA Registered Nurse $111,967.33 ($120,819.41)
FLETCHER KATHRYN ANN Pharmacist $112,927.50 ($115,233.82 )
GILLARD ILMA LUCINDA Registered Nurse $112,176.03 ($124,059.31)
GRANT ANITA Manager, Pharmacy Services $107,119.49 ( $107,090.98)
GROENEWEG HENRIETTA G. Registered Nurse $110,253.66 ($106,523.42)
HARMS NANCY ANNE Registered Nurse $100,091.49 ($102,969.28)
HICKS NANCY Registered Nurse $101,578.84 (new)
HILLMAN MARY–ELLEN Registered Nurse $107,846.91 ($111,217.04)
HOPKINS MALCOLM Vice President $192,509.99 ($154,763.83)
KOLATOR–COTNAM SUSAN MARY Pharmacist $105,333.84 ($105,925.62)
PAVILONIS LAURA Director, People Development $111,857.20 (new)
PINNELL MARY KATHERINE Registered Nurse $104,956.77 ($106,336.62)
SHEA JAMES Director, Corporate Services $100,360.68 ($100,360.60)
SIMPSON DAVID Manager, Continuing Care Centre $109,779.13 (new)
WASTY DR. FASAHAT Pathologist $349,951.05 ($334,805.44)
WHITMORE DR. NANCY Vice President $164,009.53 * fiscal year only total (previously not a hospital employee)


KUNTZ CAROLYN Director, Health Promotion $109,700.08 ($106,351.74)
ST. JOHN CYNTHIA Executive Director $148,617.35 ($135,735.60)

WILEY JUDITH Executive Director $123,512.26 (112,373.70)
WARSH FRANKLIN Family Physician $163,112.86 (new)


DEBRUYN HEATHER Executive Director $106,893.28 ($105,712.01)


DITTRICH JOYCE Manager Legal Department $104,035.19 ($100,803.00)
HEWITT LYNETTE Family Services and After Hours Manager $100,927.22 (new)
MEYERS JULIE Family Services and After Hours Manager $101,027.22 (new)
POTGEITER ROD Executive Director $146,138.70 (143,275.00)
SZIKSZAY MONICA Manager City Investigation, After Hours Manager $103,367.22 ($101,809.00)


GEORGE KIM Physician – $219,244.05 ($206,457.15)
KROEKER ANDREW Executive Director $113,638.21 (new)
MARDELL KEVIN physician $269,921.38 ($272,711.89)