Meeting planned for Feb. 20 in Pugwash
A meeting is planned for Feb. 20 to protest cuts to lab services at several Cumberland County hospitals.
A meeting is planned for Feb. 20 to protest cuts to lab services at several Cumberland County hospitals. A former county councillor says the cuts aren't needed, while the chairman of the health authority board says the consolidation is mainly because of a human resources challenge at the regional hospital.
PUGWASH – Opposition is growing to a plan to consolidate Cumberland County’s laboratory technicians at the regional hospital as part of a plan by the Cumberland Health Authority to eliminate a $700,000 shortfall.
Kathy Redmond, a former Cumberland municipal councilor who led a community health-care committee in Pugwash, said a public meeting is planned for the Ground Search and Rescue building in Pugwash on Feb. 20 at 7 p.m.
“I think cutting our services is not the right way to look at cutting back. When you’re putting people’s health-care at risk, you need to be looking for other ways of making the cuts,” said Redmond. “There are instances when you need the lab information asap and I’m afraid that our ER will be next because they can’t do proper testing if someone comes in with a heart attack.”
Redmond’s comments come two weeks after health authority CEO Bruce Quigley announced routine lab tests will no longer be processed at Cumberland County’s smaller hospitals. The health authority is consolidating its laboratory services at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre to balance its budget and deal with a growing human resources challenge.
Quigley said blood and other specimens will continue to be collected at All Saints Hospital in Springhill, North Cumberland Memorial Hospital in Pugwash and the South Cumberland Community Care Centre in Parrsboro, while urgent lab needs will be done through point-of-care testing technology.
Eight positions – six in Springhill and one each in Parrsboro and Pugwash – are being moved to the regional hospital near Amherst.
CHA board chairman Bruce Saunders said the primary reason for the change is the human resources challenge that’s coming in retiring laboratory technicians.
“This is not a Cumberland Health Authority versus Pugwash thing. This is a provincewide event that’s being driving by cost but also by the fact that we also have a large percentage of our lab techs retiring over the next five years,” Saunders said. “The education system is not putting out enough to replace those we are going to lose. Simply put, we will not have enough to staff these facilities. So, rather than wait for the calamity to take place we’re being up front and dealing with it now.”
Redmond said the health authority is too top heavy in administration. Pointing to its compensation disclosure document for 2012-13, Redmond says the CHA should look at reducing administrative costs instead of consolidating patient services. She said $2.57 million for 21 administrative salaries is high.
“Find another way,” she said. “Do we really need that many administrators? When you’re spending almost $2.6 million on just 21 positions it’s time to look at how we’re spending our health-care dollars.”
Saunders said Redmond should have called the health authority office for an explanation because 15 of those in the document are nurses.
“She makes it sound like there are 21 people in administration making more than $100,000 when that’s not the case,” Saunders said. “The fact is, three-quarters are front-line health-care providers.”
Saunders said the province has already begun the process of reducing the number of health authorities to two to save more than $13 million in administration costs.
Saunders said a lot of savings are also being generated across the province by merging services. That process, he said, didn’t stop with the provincial election.