FTE numbers a ‘slippery slope downward’ at STEGH


city_scope_logo-cmykThey were initially announced two weeks ago and after badgering by the Times-Journal, St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital administration is finally being a little more upfront on the extent of measures needed to overcome a $1 million budget shortfall for 2016/17.
Early in February it was announced as many as four full-time jobs could be cut but as many as 11 positions could be impacted through early retirement and attrition.
Hospital president and CEO Paul Collins stressed at the time the job losses won’t directly affect patient care.
How is that possible? Everything the hospital does revolves around patient care. What else is it in business for?
After all, STEGH’s mission statement promises “To deliver an excellent patient care experience . . .”
Notably absent from early discussions with the hospital was any mention of closing the outpatient lab and reducing its gastric diagnostic imaging services from four days a week to two, resulting in reduced part-time hours for medical radiology technologists.
That only surfaced when T-J reporter Jennifer Bieman — acting on information provided by an OPSEU representative — pressed hospital administration for further details on the cutbacks.
That’s the front-page story in  the Feb. 20 edition of the T-J.

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Spending big doesn’t get you the chain of office


city_scope_logo-cmykThe final numbers have been submitted and it’s a bitter lesson for mayoral candidate Mark Cosens, who found you can’t spend your way to the top.
March 27 was the deadline for candidates to file campaign expenses for the 2014 municipal vote and all 22 individuals met that target.
Cosens claimed $15,244.94 in expenses, which was well beyond double the amount logged by Mayor Heather Jackson at $5,883.59.
Cliff Barwick, who filed months ago, spent just over $4,000. Continue reading

Revitalized Tories feel a Wynne is in sight


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A reinvigorated party, ready to head to the polls and unseat Kathleen Wynne and the scandal-plagued Liberals.
That’s the prognosis from Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek as his party emerged from last weekend’s pep rally in London.
“All of the caucus left pretty invigorated and ready to go behind Tim (Hudak),” Jeff told City Scope on Thursday.
“Tim has even come out on fire in the legislature all week and really focused on jobs and the economy. He has really loosened up and he’s ready to go for the next election.”
We’ll zero in on jobs in a moment, however we had to peg Jeff down on the party’s leader who just doesn’t seem to resonate with the majority of voters.
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I’m sorry, your patient care has been out-sourced


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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.
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A waiting game at STEGH while government backtracks


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It’s been all quiet on the STEGH re-scoping front of late so time for an update courtesy of hospital CEO Paul Collins, in the form of a personal message sent to his “colleagues.”
Collins advises, “At the time of my last update to you on April 19th we were meeting with the Ministry Capital Branch in Toronto to discuss our STEGH project “re-scoping” approach. Our discussion with them focused on reducing the over-all cost of our project.”
Cost savings can be achieved by possibly eliminating some elements, like new hallways for movement through the existing buildings and reducing the size of new areas like the emergency department and mental health, while maintaining ministry planning and space standards, Collins suggests.

“These changes are possible only because since submitting the original plan in 2009, we have learned a great deal about how to plan and use space better,” he suggests.
“We have continued to work with the ministry on our “interim” plan to demolish the Snell building, move Ambulatory care from the first floor west wing to ground floor CCC and renovate the vacated first floor west wing, all to accommodate the new Mental Health program in this temporary space, beginning 2013.”
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Rescoping? Beats me, insists former MPP Steve Peters


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Watch for the matter of a new home for Elgin St. Thomas Public Health to heat up dramatically in the coming days.
The health unit has been out of the public spotlight of late and that’s not a bad thing after the drama and controversy that dogged the previous board of directors.
The new board, including Elgin Warden Bill Walters and St. Thomas Ald. Dave Warden, has got the organization focused on moving forward.
However, will it withstand the fallout from a forthcoming announcement on a move from its current digs at 99 Edward St. to a two-acre site that is not the west Talbot Street property owned by Shmuel Farhi?
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A fundamental change blowing in the budget wind?


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Budget deliberations are a critical indicator of the direction city council will follow in the coming fiscal year and the sometimes quirky priorities of our municipal representatives.
After a warm-up session Thursday, council will get down to brass tacks on Monday as they tackle Part 1 of the 2012 capital budget.
Members are being asked to approved expenditures of just over $8 million, of which $2 million will be sourced through the 2012 property tax levy, the same as 2011.
In total, the requests for capital in 2012 total $22.4 million, requiring property tax supported funding of $9.5 million.
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