Cornwall citizens and health care workers oppose the loss of clinical laboratory services at their hospital



    CORNWALL, June 4 /CNW Telbec/ - Yesterday night, concerned citizens of
the Cornwall area, members of the Ontario Coalition of Hospital Unions (OCHU -
CUPE) and other health care professionals, came together at the Royal Canadian
Air Force building to discuss the regional laboratories project, as well as
other changes affecting health services in Ontario and at their local
hospital. Diane Morin, president of CUPE local 7811, which represents
employees at the Cornwall Community Hospital, chaired the meeting.
    Doug Allan, CUPE researcher, explained how Local Health Integration
Networks (LHINs) have been put in place to manage cuts in funding for
hospitals by, among other things, reducing the range of services provided by
each hospital. He also reminded everyone that the Eastern Ontario Regional
Laboratory Association (EORLA), was initially promising not to cut jobs and to
maintain laboratory technicians and support staff in the employment of their
respective hospitals. But they are now moving towards a single employer model
and the centralization of testing in one or two hospitals for the whole
Champlain LHIN area, which goes from Cornwall to Pembroke. The plan from EORLA
is to reduce staffing by 10 per cent, but increase the management budget by
$1 million. He added "This project is wrong from a public health perspective
and is not even supposed to generate significant savings, according to its
promoters". Each hospital in the region has been forced to sign an agreement
with the LHIN including an acceptance of the EORLA restructuring model, which
includes a reform of the EORLA board putting hospital representatives in a
minority.
    This would mean that most hospitals in the region would only collect
samples and send them to Ottawa or to private labs, at a higher cost. This
would lead to the loss of high skilled jobs in those areas and more delays in
obtaining test results for patients.
    Louis Rodriguez, OCHU vice-president gave the example of the supply chain
regional corporation Plexus, in Toronto, as a model for saving money by
coordinating some activities at the regional level, with no private partner
and no loss of jobs. He proposed that the communities affected by that project
should oppose it, if they don't want to lose those jobs and those hospital
services.
    The participants mentioned that some tests that used to be performed in
Cornwall have already been sent to Ottawa, like the tests for thyroid problems
and prostate cancer, for example. They also identified their local hospital as
the one most affected by this restructuring, since their lab is still
performing a wide variety of tests.
    They also discussed how in unusual circumstances, like an ice storm, the
testing may not be possible for a long period. Also, patients could be
administered inappropriate treatments while doctors are awaiting lab results.
People in the community need to know what is likely to happen to them if that
centralizing of services in Ottawa goes through.

    The Ontario Coalition of Hospital Unions (OCHU) and the Canadian Union of
Public Employees (CUPE) will continue their campaign aimed at convincing the
LHIN and EORLA to abandon that project, in alliance with any individuals and
groups who share that goal.




For further information:

For further information: Benoit Renaud, CUPE communications, (613)
818-0077, brenaud@cupe.ca; Michael Hurley, president, OCHU, W: (416) 599-0770
x 21, Cell: (416) 884-0770, michaelhurley@ochu.on.ca

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