Hotel Dieu needs to confirm or deny existence of plan to shorten urgent care hours

KINGSTON, ON, March 13, 2014 /CNW/ - Kingston's Hotel Dieu Hospital needs to confirm or deny existence of a plan to reduce hours at its downtown urgent care center says the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.

The Kingston Health Coalition wrote to CEO Dr. David Pichora March 8 asking him to release a consultant's report that purportedly recommends closing the urgent care centre at 8 pm rather than the current 10 pm. Hospital staff believe the shortened hours could be implemented as early as May.

"If true this represents a significant change in service," says Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the 130,000-member Ontario Public Service Employees Union. "The South East LHIN and the hospital need to open this up to public debate rather than make this decision in secret and behind closed doors. Given how widespread these rumours are, Pichora needs to immediately either confirm or deny the plan to shorten patient access."

Early closure of the urgent care center likely means more activity for Kingston General Hospital's emergency room. The most recent posting for ER wait times (October-December 2013) showed KGH well above the provincial average, especially for high acuity patients. High acuity patients spend an average of 18.1 hours in the KGH ER compared to the provincial average of 10.1 hours. Low acuity patients spend 5.8 hours compared to a provincial average of 4 hours.

By sending patients back to KGH's emergency room, it would reverse the province's strategy to increase "after hours" access to alternate community-based care.

"The Wynne government sold the public on the idea of urgent care centers to relieve pressure on the ERs, now they appear to be flip-flopping in Kingston and sending patients back to an overloaded KGH," says Thomas.


SOURCE OPSEU

For further information:

Rick Janson 416-525-3324 (Cell).