The following is in response to an open letter sent by the Quinte West Chamber of Commerce to QHC Board of Directors on November 3rd.
Dear Mr. Fairfield,
Thank you for your November 3 letter to the QHC Board. I appreciate having the opportunity to try and address your concerns and share our vision for the future of health care in the Brighton/Quinte West area.
In addition to being the volunteer QHC Board Chair, I also work in Trenton and am a Quinte West taxpayer. I care about the local health care system and I want to rally the community’s energy to create a model health care system in Quinte West, which will include a strong Trenton Memorial Hospital.
I do want to be very clear that Trenton Memorial Hospital is here to stay. TMH will continue to have a 24 hour emergency room, inpatient beds, diagnostics, surgical and ambulatory procedures. TMH will be a vital piece of the local health care system for many, many years to come and I personally hope for generations to come.
The current proposal to reduce the surgery done at TMH by 2400 procedures does not impact the future of this hospital. TMH can be a vibrant primary care hospital with a strong future without performing the region-wide day surgeries, just like many other wonderful primary care hospitals across Canada. Currently, more than half the people having their surgery at TMH live outside the Quinte West area. Instead of fighting to keep services at TMH for people who live elsewhere, we should instead be focused on how we can provide better local access to the wide range health care services that the residents of Brighton and Quinte West most frequently need.
You have said in your letter that we need a broader vision of what health care deliver should look like in Quinte. You don’t need to look any farther than the excellent report and recommendations produced by the Brighton/Quinte West Health Services Advisory Committee for possible answers to create an even better local health care system (available at www.qhc.on.ca). This is the group that was Chaired by Glenn Rainbird and included representation from patients and community members, physicians, Our TMH, QHC, the Local Health Integration Network and other local health care partners.
Their final report is an important reminder that the cornerstone of an effective health care system is strong primary care services that keep people healthy and in their own homes. This includes family physicians, nurse practitioners, home care, better chronic disease management and other community support services. We look forward to working with our partners to determine how we can together move the Committee’s seven recommendations forward in order to better meet the health care needs of patients and families in Brighton and Quinte West.
In your letter, you have asked for a review to be conducted of Quinte Health Care’s operations. Let me assure you the Ministry and SE LHIN have already reviewed Quinte Health Care’s draft 2016/17 operating plans and long-term distribution of clinical services. In addition, we also proactively engaged Hay Group to ensure all potential avenues for efficiency and effectiveness had been appropriately identified and assessed. Hay Group is the provincial expert with respect to assessing hospital performance and typically conducts operational reviews for the Ministry of Health. Therefore, in all material regards, an operational review has already been undertaken and the resulting recommendations incorporated in the investigative process.
I want to specifically address your misperception that there has been a “buildup of services” at BGH. In reality, every hospital has changed, with less inpatient beds and more services being appropriately delivered by other care providers in the local communities. In fact, substantially more savings are coming out of BGH in the draft 2016/17 plans.
The Board will need to make our final decisions in January, following nine months of community engagement, investigation, review and the union staff planning processes. While we have been doing this due diligence and community engagement, other hospitals have been continuing to gain further efficiencies within their organizations, potentially causing us to fall further behind in comparison, which will negatively impact QHC in the Ministry of Health hospital funding formula in future years. Delaying the process further, as you have requested, would not only push QHC into a deficit position, but would significantly and negatively hurt the regional hospitals in future years.
The Chamber of Commerce can be part of the solution to create an even better future. Help us and our health care partners to create a future “system of care” as described in the Brighton/Quinte West Health Services Advisory Committee’s report. Where residents can walk through any door at the future Trenton Health Centre and easily access the care they need, whether it’s in the emergency room, a Family Health Team clinic, Community Health Centre service, or diagnostic test. We know this is the future health care system that the residents of Quinte West and Brighton deserve. We are willing to put our energy into helping make this vision a reality. I hope you will support this very worthwhile endeavor.