CHA consolidating lab services at regional hospital

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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Processing moved out of smaller hospitals

The Cumberland Health Authority is stopping the processing of routine tests at its smaller hospitals.

The Cumberland Health Authority is stopping the processing of routine tests at its hospitals in Springhill, Pugwash and Parrsboro. Processing services are being consolidated at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre.

AMHERST – Routine lab tests will no longer be processed at Cumberland County’s smaller hospitals.

The Cumberland Health Authority is consolidating its laboratory services at the regional hospital to balance its budget and deal with a growing human resources challenge. Blood and other specimens will continue to be collected in Springhill, Pugwash and Parrsboro, but they will be sent to the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre for processing.

“Specimens will continue to be drawn at all our sites and the samples will be transported to the regional site for processing. The patients should not see any difference in the care they are given,” health authority CEO Bruce Quigley told the Citizen-Record. “The urgent lab needs of patients as they appear in Springhill, Parrsboro and Pugwash will be done through point-of-care testing technology, but the routine processing of samples will be done at the regional site.”

Point-of-care testing will be done on a smaller scale for individuals in emergency situations. Quigley said the technology will allow that particular patient’s sample to be analyzed on site so the physician, nurse practitioner or other health-care provider will have the information they need as quickly as possible to make a diagnosis.

“There’s technology that’s available which allows those tests to be performed locally,” he said.

Consolidating the processing of lab specimens to the regional site will bring about a cost savings, but it will also allow the health authority to consolidate into one group a very scarce human resource in lab techs. Like other health authorities, Quigley said, approximately a third of the CHA’s lab techs will be in a retirement position over the next three years.

Because of this, he said, staffing is going to be more challenging.

The consolidation will affect eight positions, including six at All Saints in Springhill and one each in Parrsboro and Pugwash.

 “This is not about laying scarce lab techs off, it’s about utilizing them more effectively for the lab program,” Quigley said. “It’s a big program. Last year the DHA had a budget of $63.8 million. Of that $3.6 million was for lab services. It’s an important service and we have to make sure we can maintain consistency in the provision of that service.”

Quigley said there will also be a savings in equipment maintenance. He said the regional hospital has $1.5 million in equipment that has the capacity to perform the tests. At the same time, he said, the CHA has been trying to maintain equipment in the other hospitals.

The CEO said it’s becoming “increasingly difficult” to staff the lab at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre on a 24-7 basis, something that’s a core service of a regional hospital. He said the consolidation will help alleviate this issue.

Quigley said the health authority’s business plan was formally approved by the province late last week. That approval included dealing with some financial challenges.

Other savings are coming from eliminating some previously approved management positions from the budget.

“We’re sharing a vice-president of operations with Colchester and our chief of staff position is down by a half. The CHA also had a retirement of the plant maintenance manager that we didn’t fill. We will also be sharing a laboratory manager position with Colchester,” he said.

 darrell.cole@tc.tc

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

 

Organizations: Cumberland Health Authority, Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre, Citizen-Record

Geographic location: Springhill, Pugwash, Parrsboro Cumberland County All Saints

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  • Pauline
    January 29, 2014 - 18:09

    What next - why not keep our dollars here in canada rather than send to foreign countries as I was alway under the understanding that we should take care of our own. We would be able to take care of our health, schools and roads . There is millions given away. Take care of Canadians first than if there is a surplus help others.

  • Annonomous
    January 29, 2014 - 16:59

    Wow. I think we also forget that at those rural hospital there is no physician coverage in house after hours therefor there will not be lab testing done as that is not how these CEC's are set up. Let's also not forget that the same nursing staff (1 or2 persons) are also looking after inpatients. So why they are performing the job of a lab tech who will be looking after those patients. Wages hmmm maybe they could start paying nurses the wages of a nurse, lab tech, manager, physician etc etc combined as they seem to be the professional that can do everyone else's job. And yes still try to put the patients well being first.

  • Advocate for good health care
    January 26, 2014 - 10:52

    Lovely just lovely another hit for our small RURAL hospitals - not only are we now having to make appointments - they are getting rid of our lab. Last paragraph reads eliminating some previously approved management positions from the budget, here's hoping this Government will stick to their campaign promise and eliminate the over paid CEO's - come on people speak up lets stop putting up with the cut backs to those that have to travel so far. Our communities are loosing service after service. think this is a good thing think again any loss in service is not good. Mad in Pugwash

    • Barb
      January 29, 2014 - 13:11

      And we still pay taxes the same as everyone else in the district! This is a disgrace and loss for the rural areas......Are we less important than the people living in the larger centers? I agree........cut the number of CEO's or at least their salaries.....Did you know that the CEO in Cumberland County makes around $280,000 per year? The second highest paid in the province. That is where the cutting should start! Not with the front line sites!

    • Barb
      January 29, 2014 - 13:11

      And we still pay taxes the same as everyone else in the district! This is a disgrace and loss for the rural areas......Are we less important than the people living in the larger centers? I agree........cut the number of CEO's or at least their salaries.....Did you know that the CEO in Cumberland County makes around $280,000 per year? The second highest paid in the province. That is where the cutting should start! Not with the front line sites!

  • Cam
    January 22, 2014 - 06:22

    I am not sure how they expect smaller hospitals to function with this downgrade in labs services. They keep taking away from small sites when it is already staffed with the bare bones minimum and have limited services. They simply won't be able to give proper care. I guess it means more people going to the amherst outpatients and adding to the work load there.

  • Techie
    January 21, 2014 - 20:28

    Working as a lab tech at CRHCC. These changes are going to greatly affect our work load in Amherst. However.. The services if anything will be better for patients coming into the emergency after hours in the small hospitals. There are going to be point of care machines put into place that the nurses and doctors are going to be trained to use to get a better picture of what is wrong with a patient... Having the same services available all the time as compaired to 7-3 only will in my opinion be a positive change for the community.

    • Bonny
      January 29, 2014 - 13:18

      Do you even know what it is like to work in a small hospital? It all sounds great until you have an emergency heart attack and there is only one nurse, one LPN and one doctor to look after the patient.....Who will draw the blood and then test it? The one nurse who should be looking after the patient? or the doctor who should be looking after the patient? Or the LPN who should be looking after the patient? Exactly the point.....there are not enough staff in these small sites to do any of this. Does someone have to die before they realize that this only causes anxiety to the patient and the staff? Not fair......Ask yourself, If I (or a family member) was brought into a small site with this type of emergency would I feel safe? Don't think so......

  • Doug P
    January 21, 2014 - 15:42

    You have rationing of services thanks to the unions making it practically illegal to lower wages by say 3% . The unwritten union law is that wages must only go one way: up. The management and government can not reduce wages by .even 001 of a percent. Wage freezes are as close as they can come. _________________________________________ Fact: 90% of healthcare budgets are labor wages, paired with fact that wages can never reverse is Unionism magic! The cuts and consolidations are what keeps wages perks always marching higher! Suck it up people Doctors, Nurses and support staff ratcheted salaries come first!

  • Barb
    January 21, 2014 - 13:15

    Keep taking and taking from the small hospitals and soon there won't be any small hospitals! It is obvious that they are thinking about the bottom line instead of the patient and workers. I am sure this will affect patient care but they say no. Does someone have to die not having the appropriate medical care before they start seeing what is really needed? I hope not! Not happy to hear about the recent cutbacks to our "publicly funded" healthcare! What about you?

  • Joanne MacPherson
    January 21, 2014 - 08:00

    We are getting less health care and more management boards. Mr. Quigley should resign.

  • mary
    January 21, 2014 - 05:38

    so it will make already overworked and stressed lab techs in Amherst more overworked and stressed......makes sense...gotta cut costs no matter what.....

  • Robin
    January 20, 2014 - 17:24

    I'm all for the government finding a way to save money, however, it should not come at the cost of frontline healthcare. Lab techs are greatly important to the diagnosis and care of the patient. I trust that all the lab techs in the smaller hospitals will be utilized throughout the county. Any word yet on downsizing management?