UPDATE: City seeks advice on court injunction to stop hospital consolidation move

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Cornwall city hall

CORNWALL, Ontario – Angry city councillors want advice from municipal lawyers about filing a court injunction against the Cornwall Community Hospital which is looking to consolidate its histology department with other services in Ottawa.

And while hospital officials refused to meet councillors Monday night, council was content to suspend its rules and allow a 35-year veteran of work within the histology department to speak.

Councillors were open in their frustration with hospital officials’ decision to ignore the request by city hall to appear at a council meeting to explain the move.

“I’m insulted that we have to go through this,” said Coun. Glen Grant. “Maybe after the explanation we can nod our head and understand it.

“A simple explanation – I don’t know what is harmful about coming and explaining this.”

City hall has pledged millions of dollars to the hospital over the years, and many councillors pointed to that as a reason why hospital officials should come before council to explain the loss of the histology department, which will result in four lost jobs and what critics fear will be long waits for local patients waiting to learn if they have cancer.

“We want to make sure the services are here for the (betterment) of this community,” said Coun. Denis Carr. “We realize we are not in the health-care business…but we certainly played a big part in the improvements that were completed at the hospital.

“We certainly won’t forget if we feel we’ve been snubbed or not listened to in some way.”

Denise Loney, who has worked 35 years within the department at the hospital, told city councillors she has significant worries.

"We scored 100 per cent on last accreditation," she said. "The facility we have in Cornwall presently is top-notch.

“What the hospital is proposing to do is to send all the routine work or preparation of tissues specimens to Ottawa.

"What I’m concerned about is there are four jobs that are in jeopardy, but my main concern is the amount of time it will take for this slide to come back for the pathologist to read.”

City council had to suspend its rules to allow Loney to speak, since she was not on the agenda.

Loney said the move likely boils down to money.

"In centralizing the services you can get rid of four positions…I think it has to come down to finances, from what I can make out," she said. "I think they have made up their mind and that is the end of it."

Coun. David Murphy said he has met with hospital board chair Michael Turcotte, who assured him greater efficiencies can be found through the consolidation, and it was suggested to him wait times will not be affected for critical cases.

Just how successful the city will be in its attempt to get a court to agree to an injunction remains to be seen.

Councillors Bernadette Clement and Denis Thibault both openly suggested the city could ultimately fail in that regard.

Mayor Bob Kilger suggested the city is wading into an area that is outside its sphere of influence.

“There’s no bad people here...(but) I believe that unintentionally we created an environment that was not conducive to a frank discussion on…health care,” he said. “The governance of the hospital is mandated and trusted through provincial legislation.”

Organizations: Cornwall Community Hospital

Geographic location: Ontario, Ottawa

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  • Karen Wert
    May 28, 2014 - 10:30

    They are speaking in half truths .... when saying it will not influence new doctors coming to Cornwall because 8 came last year .... they may have came last year but this decision to move the histology department was not know last year when the new doctors located to Cornwall. And when they say it will speed up results because the Ottawa histology department works 7 days a week ..... they have to work 7 days a week to have a reasonable turnaround time for their 10,0000 or more specimens. Factor in our 5,000 plus specimens to that equation keeping in mind that no additional techs have been hired to help with this additional work. You do the math. The fact that no hospital representative bothered to show up for Monday nights meeting speaks volumes about their confidence in defending/explaining their decision to ship histology out. I don't know about you, but I don't want my uterus travelling 1 hr to Ottawa in a snowstorm hoping it gets their safely to be processed and even if it does then the slides made of that specimen have to return to Cornwall to be read, possibly in the same weather conditions. ??????

  • Karen Wert
    May 28, 2014 - 10:30

    They are speaking in half truths .... when saying it will not influence new doctors coming to Cornwall because 8 came last year .... they may have came last year but this decision to move the histology department was not know last year when the new doctors located to Cornwall. And when they say it will speed up results because the Ottawa histology department works 7 days a week ..... they have to work 7 days a week to have a reasonable turnaround time for their 10,0000 or more specimens. Factor in our 5,000 plus specimens to that equation keeping in mind that no additional techs have been hired to help with this additional work. You do the math. The fact that no hospital representative bothered to show up for Monday nights meeting speaks volumes about their confidence in defending/explaining their decision to ship histology out. I don't know about you, but I don't want my uterus travelling 1 hr to Ottawa in a snowstorm hoping it gets their safely to be processed and even if it does then the slides made of that specimen have to return to Cornwall to be read, possibly in the same weather conditions. ??????