HEU and BCNU question value of health authority audit

News release

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Health Care unions say an audit released yesterday by the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority is of questionable value. And the unions are again calling for the BC Auditor General to step in and oversee an independent auditing process for all privatized cleaning contracts in BC hospitals.

The audit of VCHA and Providence Health Care facilities by Westech Systems was ordered after health care unions issued a report last month that raised concerns about hospital cleaning standards in the St. Paul’s Hospital emergency room.

That report outlined problems with VCHA’s internal cleaning audit including a measuring tool that gives the same scoring weight to a dirty IV pole in the emergency room as to a dusty window sill in a waiting room.

VCHA admits that the Westech Systems audit was based on this same measurement tool.

“The scores given to facilities are meaningless if they don’t get at some of the underlying concerns around infection control,” says BCNU President Debra McPherson. “A surface may look clean but unless you know that infection control protocols are being followed, looks can be completely deceiving. That’s why it’s so important to consult front line care givers when evaluating cleaning. We have no way of knowing if nurses’ concerns were reviewed as part of this audit.”

In addition, both health authority managers and the private cleaning contractor had full knowledge that the audit was about to be conducted since this information was published on the front page of a Vancouver newspaper. There is no guarantee that the cleaning standards will be consistently maintained.

“Hospital cleaning is becoming a hot potato for the Gordon Campbell Liberals,” says HEU acting secretary-business manager Zorica Bosancic. “That’s why the Auditor General needs to get involved — because patients and the public need to be assured that hospitals are being properly cleaned.”