Contracting out responsible for St. Paul’s flood, ER disruption

News release

A construction accident that caused major water damage to the hospital’s emergency room and to patient records could have been avoided if hospital managers had used their own employees to do the work, says the Hospital Employees’ Union.

The union says that a pressurized water pipe above the ER — part of the hospital’s fire suppression system — was severed Thursday afternoon by an outside private contractor hired to carry out renovations to the second floor psychiatric unit.

The same non-union private contractor is linked to several other floods at the hospital including an incident last November where a severed hot water pipe on the hospital’s ninth floor flooded the eighth floor including intensive care areas.

“There are skilled trades people who work for St. Paul’s who are familiar with the aging plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems in the hospital and have completed renovation projects safely and efficiently,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt.

“As we can see from yesterday’s flood, contracting out can be an expensive mistake for public health care facilities and a major inconvenience for patients.”

Hospital managers have all but stopped using an in-house pool of trades and maintenance workers that’s safely carried out renovation projects on a cost-effective basis since 1988.

Providence Health Care, the Catholic hospital group that operates St. Paul’s, gave notice to HEU of its intent to eliminate the trades pool altogether effective at the end of next month.

St. Paul’s recently privatized the cleaning of hospital ORs, intensive care units and other patient areas and is preparing to contract out patient dietary services as well.

-30- Contact: Mike Old, communication director, 604-828-6771 (cell)