Vancouver Hospital changes long overdue

News release

HEU supports merger of VH under health board, move will better coordinate hospital-community health services

The Hospital Employees’ Union says it supports the integration of Vancouver Hospital and three other health facilities directly under the Vancouver/Richmond Health Board, which was announced this afternoon.

“Our health care system desperately needs closer coordination of community and hospital-based services, and VH should be playing a leadership role building this,” says HEU spokesperson Chris Allnutt.

“But for too long, senior management at VH has stood in the way of achieving this critical change that would help modernize Medicare and take pressures off emergency rooms and critical care services, and build stronger community services,” he said. “Bringing the hospital directly under the V/RHB will break this logjam and allow for better coordination.”

HEU also looks forward to working with the new V/RHB CEO Phil Hassen, who was appointed today.

The move represents a restructuring of management that won’t have any immediate impact on front-line caregivers Allnutt said. If issues do emerge in the future, he says the V/RHB has a good track record on consultation with health care unions. HEU represents close to 3,500 care givers at VH, UBC Hospital, and the G.F. Strong Rehabilitation Centre. Other Vancouver hospitals aren’t affected by the move.

Allnutt says the changes should have been made a long time ago because of mismanagement by senior VH bosses. He cited a botched multi-million dollar patient care information system, which will divert $8 million this year alone from direct patient care and community outreach services to pay for cost overruns. In addition, he says the bosses have wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars of health care funding trying to win approval for a high-risk biotechnology mega-project on the VH site.

HEU will continue to press the V/RHB to kill the biotech project and instead use the resources and land for important new care services like clinics for people with chronic diseases, a step-down unit for people with mental illness, and low cost supportive housing for seniors.

-30- For more information, contact: Stephen Howard, communications director, 240-8524 (cell)