A retired nurse of 45 years, Pat Sevean and her husband have both been battling serious health care issues over the past five years, some which required surgery.
The Sudbury resident who has lived elsewhere in the north, says the health care situation in regional hospitals is worsening.
“We are very disadvantaged living in the north, and regional hospitals like the Sudbury regional hospital (Health Sciences North) is over capacity all of the time. When I go for my visits, I visibly see health care workers that are so much more stressed out than they were in the past. I see that they can’t handle the capacity of patients that they’re getting, and they are worried individuals, and I am very upset about that,” said Sevean
“When I had surgery three years ago, I had an adverse event, and my husband had an adverse event when he had surgery, and as a nurse I know they happen on the weekend, they happen when people are understaffed. We were already in this decline five years ago, and now it is getting to crisis proportions, and you’re going to see serious statistics because of the lack of care.”
She was one of a small group of people who travelled from Sudbury to North Bay to hold a news conference outside Nipissing MPP and Finance Minister Vic Fedeli’s office Friday morning, expressing concern over cuts to Health Sciences North (HSN).
They say as Finance Minister, he is responsible for fiscal policy, including hospital funding levels.
Dot Klein, chair of the Sudbury Health Coalition who lead the delegation, is encouraging people to sign a petition asking the province to “stop proposed cuts at HSN, to improve the funding to meet the average of other provinces in Canada, and to restore and rebuild our local public hospital services to meet public need.”
The petition also states that “planned cuts to more than 150 full-time equivalent staff at Health Sciences North, including nurses, health professionals, and vital patient support staff is unsafe, and puts both patients and staff at unacceptable risk.”
“We are appealing to him (Fedeli) to stop the cuts, and to rebuild our health system. We are circulating a petition, with over 3,000 signatures right now, and we expect to have 5,000 by the end of the month,” said Klein.
Staff say it is not unusual to see people left in the hallways for days, because of a lack of staff and beds.
“Last week a family member talked to me about her mother waiting on a stretcher in emerg, for three days, waiting for a bed. You want to talk about hallway medicine?” asked Dave Shelefontiuk representing the 1,200 members of CUPE 1623 service and clerical staff.
“We are not providing the same services that people in Sudbury and people in the north deserve. This has to stop. We have to have the funding.”
Doug Allan, from the board of the Ontario Health Coalition said repeated requests to meet with Minister Fedeli have gone unanswered.
“We’re very troubled by the fact that now when hospitals in Sudbury and many other communities are in crisis and are reducing their services and reducing their staff that are already at unacceptably low levels, that he is refusing to meet with us. That is not the way we are going to solve the problem of hallway health care that the provincial government and Doug Ford have promised to solve. Vic Fedeli needs to work with us and work with the community to solve the problem, “ said Allan.
“We do have solutions that we can raise with Mr. Fedeli. He needs to hear from us. He is in the middle of building his provincial budget right now. He can’t just be cut off from local community members. He has to listen to us and hear our concerns about cuts that are going on in our hospitals, very serious cuts that are affecting not just the citizens of Sudbury, but because Sudbury is a regional hospital, it is affecting his own constituents here in North Bay.”
Northern communities are being asked to step up and start demanding that the cuts be rolled back, and that the services be restored.
“Balancing the hospital budget on the backs of our health care professionals means that we’re headed towards an even deeper downward spiral of long waits, and cuts to our health care system. The morale at the hospital is at a low. We have had a loss of 75 nursing positions at Health Sciences North. So that’s on top of 32 health care professionals. This is equivalent to 140,000 hours of registered nursing care at the hospital”, said Christine Spence executive member of the local 13 ONA Paramedical bargaining unit.
“So, the units that have been affected just to name a few, are the intensive care unit, the neonatal centre, birthing centre, cardiology, respiratory, and psychiatric. They’re all being affected. The entire specialized discharge planning service has been eliminated at the hospital. We need better quality care.”
Fedeli's office said the minister was unavailable to speak with the group.