BY MICHAEL JAMES
The report detailing the myriad of problems with Sudbury Regional Hospital?s huge expansion to a one-site, super-hospital cost taxpayers almost half-a-million dollars.
According to information obtained by Northern Life from the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy office, the hospitals branch of the Ontario Ministry of Health paid out $496,125 in preparing the Operational Review Report for the beleaguered hospital.
Prepared under the direction of Timmins businessman Jean-Paul Aube, the operational report identified a number of key problems at the hospital, including high physician turnover and concerns over the management of capital redevelopment and leadership.
Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci doesn?t find the report?s cost out of line, but he has other concerns.
?The average operational review costs between $400,000 and $600,000 according to the Ontario
Hospital Association,? Bartolucci said.
?The biggest concern about this operational review, done at the request of the hospital and the community, (is that it) has cost us $500,000 and all we have to show for it is another government bureaucrat?with a plan of action that isn?t being acted upon by the government,? said Bartolucci.
The government bureaucrat he is referring to is Graham Scott, the Tory-appointed supervisor to oversee the running of Sudbury Regional Hospital. His job is to guide the hospital managers coping with a $28-million operating deficit and the cost of finishing the hospital expansion which has more than doubled to $366 million.
That?s why the ?Ernie Pay Up? postcard campaign was put in place, Bartolucci said.
He is demanding Premier Ernie Eves? and his Tory government pay $160 million in order to bring the government?s contribution in line with the 70 per cent share of hospital construction costs it had originally promised.
Nickel Belt MPP Shelley Martel agrees the government has been sitting on its hands on this issue.
?There has been an operational review, there has been a Throne Speech and a budget, and still there is no change,? Martel said. ?When I look at it, I say to myself, ?what a waste?.?
A large part of the problem, according to Martel, is the government doesn?t fund the Sudbury Regional Hospital as a regional centre ? one that will provide services that don?t exist anywhere else in northeastern Ontario.
Another key issue factoring into the equation is Sudbury Regional Hospital?s operating deficit.
According to Martel, the total operating deficit of hospitals in Ontario runs in the neighbourhood of $400 million, and she doesn?t see Sudbury Regional Hospital receiving special consideration from the provincial government.
She also has concerns regarding the mortgage scheme proposed by Sudbury Regional Hospital and its board chair.
Under hospital board chair Tom Querney?s scheme, the remaining construction on the new hospital would be financed through a mortgage.
?My concern is that the hospital will not be able to make its mortgage payments, and, as a result, end up cutting staff and programs,? said Martel.
Martel said she isn?t sure whether the mortgage scheme is still being considered as a viable option.
Querney said the operational review was ordered by the Ontario Ministry of Health, and not Sudbury