As you know, last Friday (May 31st) an Expert Panel was convened as a result of a Central East LHIN directive to review The Scarborough Hospital’s consolidation plans for the Maternal Newborn and Women’s Health and Surgical models. The Panel received 34 delegations throughout the day. I attended the entire session – to listen to our stakeholders and to better appreciate the specific issues that we need to address as we move forward as a hospital.
No doubt the proposed consolidation plans contemplated under the Strategic Plan Refresh (SPR) has generated many differences in views. I was expecting to hear professional perspectives about the benefits and risks of the proposed SPR plans. I was expecting to hear a conversation about how to address these difficult challenges to lead to solutions that would ensure ongoing access to quality patient care for the Scarborough community. From many participants, this is exactly what I heard. I thank them for their insightful, professional contributions.
But I also heard much more – some of which was quite disturbing. No doubt, there was an undertone that placed a spotlight on the significant discord among some TSH departments. In these cases, TSH has two solitudes – two departments located at two separate hospital sites that have chosen not to come together despite being “integrated” for over a decade.
This discord played out in the public in the worst of ways at the Expert Panel session. Some delegates implied, and others explicitly stated, that the patient care at the Birchmount obstetrical program was unsafe or less than optimal. We know this to be absolutely false. To reference adverse events that happened five years ago – events that were unavoideable and could have happened anywhere in Ontario – feeds fear in the community. These references are unjustified and serve no purpose other than being self-serving. It does nothing to regain our community’s confidence in our hospital.
The reality is that both hospital campuses provide safe, quality care to our patients. You need only to look at the stellar performance of the quality indicators for both obstetrical programs. This behaviour by some to resurrect past adverse events without proper context or visibility to the details is unprofessional at best, reckless at worst. It hurts The Scarborough Hospital – both campuses. It impacts our good reputation and the confidence that our patients have in us. More importantly, it impairs our ability to serve our community effectively. If Scarborough residents choose to go elsewhere for their hospital care out of false fear, then we have failed to adequately serve our community.
The Ontario hospital system is undergoing transformation – which is before us whether or not we like it – and we do need to make some tough decisions about how we organize and deliver patient services for our community.
A dysfunctional team will lead to dysfunctional results. As we move forward with health care transformation, we will only be able to effectively respond if we act as one hospital, one team, one collective voice. I know this can be achieved because we’re doing it at TSH today. We have some departments that have fully integrated and/or consolidated their services, staff and medical team. In doing so, they are shining examples of success – demonstrating a spirit of teamwork that ultimately benefits our patients.
The Scarborough community deserves the best health care. To be the best, we must behave like the best – cohesive, supportive and respectful relationships among our team members, and between hospital campuses. To arrive at the best solutions for our patients, we must work collaboratively and set aside our self-interests. I expect nothing less moving forward.