CEO preaching calm in wake of bed, staff cuts
by Matthew Uhrig
WINCHESTER – In the end, it came down to the difference between a blip on the radar or a trend.
Winchester District Memorial Hospital (WDMH) announced late last week
the medical facility would be cutting 14 beds – nine from the
medical/surgical unit and five from the complex continuing care ward –
and eliminating nine staff positions.
According to CEO Cholly Boland, a five-month consultation process led
to senior staff forming a plan to eliminate the beds, before ultimately
being passed by the hospital’s board of directors.
“About a year ago, we started seeing vacant beds… Where our total
occupancy was at 50 to 60 per cent,” he said. “We asked ourselves if
that was a blip or a trend, and a year later it is a trend. It is not
essential to have idle beds; it is not a blip and it is a trend… We’ll
still be admitting as many patients as we need to despite not operating
these beds. When people hear closing beds they think there are people
in those beds and we’re kicking them out, and that is not the
connotation at all.”
An anticipated budget deficit also led to the change.
“Several years of minimal government funding has accumulated,” Boland
said. “We’ve mitigated and managed in the past, but this year we’re
going to have to do something different.”
Aside from the bed and staffing changes, from which no current
full-time employee will be losing their job and hours for part-time
workers will be reduced, the hospital’s extended care unit is
relocating to the inpatient area to, according to Boland, provide a
better flow and co-ordination of services.
The CEO said nearly $700,000 in savings is associated with those changes, with the money going against the budget deficit.
Almost immediately after WDMH’s announcement, opposition PC MPPs began
playing political football with the issue, denouncing the ruling
Liberals for causing the hospital to make the changes.
“At a time when the senior population has increased and requires access
to acute and chronic healthcare, the government’s funding approach is
causing local beds to close,” Stormont, Dundas, and South Glengarry MPP
Jim McDonell said. “We have seen the present government slowly and
silently eroding the provision of health services.”
Nepean-Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod said she was “disappointed” the
hospital is closing beds and eliminating staff positions because of
Other changes taking shape at WDMH include the increase of parking fees
from $2 to $5 (or a raised monthly fee of $25), with the price
adjustment taking place in late spring.
As well, Boland said administrative staff will be conducting an
extensive review of the hospital’s supply budgets. Supplies include
externally purchased items such as medical and surgical items, heat and
electricity, linens, and more.
“Currently, we spend more on supplies than most other similar hospitals, and we want to improve that,” he said.
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