Hospital issues FAQ on controversial consolidation plan

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Cornwall Community Hospital..

CORNWALL, Ontario - The Cornwall Community Hospital has issued a FAQ in an effort to quell questions concerning its controversial decision to consolidate its histology department.

The move to consolidate the department has sparked concern from doctors, and even brought questions from city hall about the validity of the move.

The hospital has refused to meet with the city on the issue, despite a request from council to come to a public session and explain things.

Below is the Tuesday release from the hospital.

Frequently Asked Questions:  Laboratory Services

 1. Who is responsible for the provision of laboratory services at Cornwall Community Hospital?

Laboratory services at the hospital have been managed by the Eastern Ontario Regional Laboratory Association (EORLA) since April 2012.   A total number of 46 EORLA laboratory staff members work at Cornwall Community Hospital. 

2. What is the Eastern Ontario Regional Laboratory Association (EORLA)?

EORLA is a not-for-profit corporation created for the purpose of providing integrated laboratory services to its 16 member hospitals in Eastern Ontario, including Cornwall Community Hospital.  The mission of EORLA is to enhance care through unified, patient-focused laboratory medicine services, teaching and research.

The residents of Cornwall and area have the opportunity to profit from the expertise, quality and cutting-edge capabilities of EORLA. The region’s flagship lab service is located in Ottawa.

3. What are the upcoming Laboratory changes which will be occurring locally?

The only function being transferred to EORLA’s main laboratory is histology preparation, which involves taking tissue samples (from biopsies or surgeries) and making microscope slides out of those tissues. This is a very complex and technical process that will be performed by EORLA’s staff using state-of-the-art technology. It is exactly the kind of intellectual leveraging and quality capitalization we wanted to achieve when EORLA was created.

These slides will be sent back for pathologists at Cornwall Community Hospital to read and diagnose.

4. Why is the preparation of slides being transferred to the main EORLA laboratory? 

The decision to transfer the work to the reference lab in Ottawa was made in an effort to improve efficiencies, lower costs and ensure sustainable high quality services well into the future.  For example, testing work will take place seven days a week instead of the current five. This technical work is a complex function which will be supported through the excellent support of a team of 17 Pathology Assistants, 60 Histology Technologists and Technicians, and a state-of-the-art technical pathology testing laboratory.

Our hospital is dedicated to the goals of providing the highest quality care in the most efficient manner possible.  EORLA is an opportunity to take advantage of economy of scale efficiencies – collaborating with our partner hospitals to deliver better quality at a lower cost through centralization, cooperation, and expert leadership.

5. What will this change mean for the patient?  Does this mean that the patient will have to travel out of town?

There will be no change from the perspective of the patient.  Specimen collection will continue to be done in Cornwall. 

6. Will this change cause delays in obtaining results?

EORLA has committed to at least maintaining the same turnaround times for the preparation of slides.  It is expected however that the turnaround time for the preparation of the slides will be shorter as the laboratory in Cornwall operates only five days per week, while EORLA’s main laboratory operates on a seven day per week schedule.

EORLA is accountable to report the quality standards to Cornwall Community Hospital’s Medical Advisory Committee and Board of Directors. It is important to note that the pathologists who analyze and provide the results will remain on site at Cornwall Community Hospital. 

7. What if an analysis or reading is required immediately?

Urgent slides will continue to be prepared in Cornwall by competent fully trained laboratory professionals.  

8. Will this change have an impact on the work of local physicians or how they practice?

EORLA has made a commitment that this change will be seamless to physicians and they will see no difference.  The physicians will continue to interact in the same way with the pathologists as they are remaining on site at Cornwall Community Hospital. 

Structure is in place to ensure that both governance and operations of pathology services will continue to work together to provide a high standard of care.

9. Will this change affect the community’s ability of attracting or retaining physicians? 

No.   In fact, having access to a team that delivers high quality, cost effective, sustainable and safe medical laboratory services is a major selling point for the community when looking to attract high calibre professionals.

10.  How many positions locally are being affected by this change?

This change will affect four (4) EORLA employees.  EORLA has committed to a process where the affected staff members will be treated fairly with compassion and respect, and all efforts will be taken to mitigate the impact on their frontline staff including exploration of redeployment within the Cornwall laboratory and the broader EORLA operations.  This process is governed by a Collective Agreement. 

Organizations: Eastern Ontario Regional Laboratory Association, Cornwall Community Hospital, EORLA laboratory Medical Advisory Committee Cornwall laboratory

Geographic location: CORNWALL, Ontario, Ottawa

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Recent comments

  • Chantal Smaggus
    May 13, 2014 - 18:40

    Well on another note I was pretty disgusted today as I had to drive all the way to kingston for an MRI when there is an MRI machine right here in Cornwall. My beef with the hospital is that every time they need something and fund-raise - we Cornwallites are here for them and they turn around and close services. They ain't ever getting a dime off me again

  • Bill Fry
    May 13, 2014 - 14:48

    So what is been said is this really is not a decision been made locally but by EORLA and the local hospitals pretty well has to go along with concept EROLA was probably the brain child of the Local Health Integration Networks( LHIN) who tends to focus all it resources on the Large hospitals in Ottawa . Hopefully the new government will take a very strong look at how expensive Local Health Integration Networks has become large and UNWIELDY paying huge salaries to people sitting in offices that come up with these plans instead of having front line people in places like Cornwall. Does any one even know the name of the local representative and how much power they really have being out voted by an out of balanced board favouring Ottawa I would think? The people of Cornwall will just have to get use to the fact that more and more services will not be located in Cornwall in the future under the premise it will make better patient care. I can remember when the LHIN was being debated in Toronto before it became law my father who was a very well know and respected Hospital CEO told me he had read about 90% of the whole document and he was surprised to see a key word in a document that was shaping the way health was to be delivered in Ontario was totally missing ,when I asked him what that word was he stated to me the word PATIENT the reason heath care exists for. He told me he felt the new act was all about dollar and cents he was quite disgusted at the time , He also told me of his fears that was always prevalent in his many years of dealing with the Ottawa hospitals hierarchy when they would make comments that they could not understand why Cornwall would fund programs here as it took away from the provincial pie and they could have a bigger unit and he would counter to them not all his patients could afford to take a day off of work to attend a 10 min appointment in Ottawa and many were senior citizens or had no access to transportation. All these years later he was right how many here have sat for hours in a crowded waiting room in Ottawa and over heard people complaining about all the out of town patients that are causing them to wait longer in their hospital. Let get back to District health councils ran by people in our communities and cost to the hospital it was held in the price of doughnuts and coffee.