St. Paul’s Hospital move proves privatized health services more expensive

News release

Food service contract yanked from U.S. corporation, will be brought in-house Jan. 1

In a cost-cutting move, St. Paul’s Hospital will end its food and housekeeping management contract with multi-national food giant Marriott and bring the functions back in-house effective January 1, 2002.

Barbara Burke, a senior administrator with Providence Health Care — which runs St. Paul’s and other public health care facilities in Vancouver, says in a recent memo that she will “repatriate” operation of the important support services “as part of a significant deficit reduction program.”

HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt calls the developments “significant,” and says it’s a move the Campbell government should take note of given recent musings about widespread privatization of health care services.

“This is a victory for public health care,” says Allnutt. “The second largest hospital in B.C. has recognized that contracting out food and housekeeping services was expensive and has moved to correct that by ending its relationship with Marriott.

“It’s a positive decision and demonstrates a responsible use of human and financial resources.”

Allnutt says that at a time when health administrators are looking at bed closures and contracting-out as quick fixes to budget problems, Providence has recognized the cost-saving of using its in-house expertise. “Contracting-out is costly. Bringing food and housekeeping services back under hospital management is cost efficient and a better use of taxpayers’ dollars.”