ED ALLARD: It looks like the children are running the show at city hall

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I’m not sure what city hall expects to accomplish by demanding that hospital management come to them on bended knee over the planned move of the histology department or else face court action.  But it looks like the adults have all gone home and the children are running the show.   

As retired hospital employee Denise Loney suggested at last Monday’s council meeting, the decision is a financial one and she’s right on the money.  Surely they must realize that the hospital, like every other hospital, is doing its best to stretch a very tight financial pot to keep up with ever increasing demands, especially the growing needs of the sizeable baby-boom cohort.  Though, at some point, it obviously has to face difficult choices and make necessary compromises.  

But the hospital board and hospital management are much better informed and experienced than city council to determine where those compromises can best be made with the least impact on health care.  In fact, I really don’t want city council interfering in hospital operations.  

It’s also up to the hospital to decide when, where and how to communicate with the public on the matter.  It answers to Queens Park, not city hall.  City council is not the referee who decides what that standard of communication should be.   

The tone of council’s approach leaves the impression that rather than politely seeking an explanation, as council is at pains to insist, they really want to put hospital management in front of TV cameras and grill them.  The extraordinary decision to hear from a former employee at a council meeting takes it one step further and suggests councillors have now established themselves as judge and jury and have cast the hospital in the role of a defendant.  They know they can’t force the hospital to change its decision but they want their pound of flesh anyway.  

It appears they still haven’t spent enough money this term on lawyers.  The threat of a court injunction is not only over the top, it’s actually counter-productive.  Why councillors agreed to this is beyond me.  It suggests a very narrow understanding of taxpayers’ interests.  This won’t happen, but think about it: not only would they pursue this issue with city tax money that is really intended for city operations, but also the hospital would have to defend the action with provincial tax money that’s really intended for health care.  That could force the hospital to make even more changes to its operations to offset legal costs.  It also puts local taxpayers in the unenviable position of financing both sides of the case, which is utterly insane.  

If they really wanted just to seek answers, they would, as recently suggested in Mac’s Musings, send a delegation to this month’s hospital board meeting and ask their questions on its territory.   No doubt the issue will be raised there in any event.   Instead, they’re thinking with their gut instead of their head.  There is no thought to the possible impact on long-term issues and relationships.  It’s like the South Glengarry water sharing issue all over again.  They aren’t learning from experience.  

This is all about the loss of four jobs dressed up to make it into a health care crisis.  It is showing a tremendous lack of confidence in hospital management.  It’s not a city hall problem, period, end of story.  A wiser city council would walk away and let the hospital manage its affairs.  

And that’s the way I see it. 

Geographic location: Queens Park

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