Underfunding health facilities risky for patients

Another air conditioner breaks, thousands of safety incidents related to infrastructure according to former CEO

The NDP wants the government to repair run-down health buildings as yet another infrastructure failure put patients at risk – this time a broken air conditioning unit at the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre.

NDP Health critic Danielle Chartier said with crumbling and broken infrastructure plaguing health care, the government needs a new approach.

Infrastructure problems lead to the majority of 33,000 safety incident reports in the Saskatoon Health Region alone, according to the former CEO.

“Most safety incident reports (33K) @Saskatoonhealth: near misses related to infrastructure. 8000 relate to client falls.” That social media post came from CEO Maura Davies before she suddenly resigned in October 2014.

The Opposition discovered the deleted Twitter post through an internal government email flagging the tweet. The email was obtained via freedom of information laws.

“Can you imagine visiting a loved one in a seniors care home and finding them overheated, drenched in sweat and dehydrated? Or imagine having a baby and not being able to have a shower in the maternity ward because of another burst pipe,” said Chartier.  “This government waits until something goes wrong, and then applies bandage repairs – that’s putting patients at risk.”

In addition to the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre’s broken air conditioning, the air conditioning at Moose Jaw’s Providence Place seniors care home has been broken all summer. Reports from other hospitals and care facilities have included plumbing problems, leaky roofs and duct-tape repairs.

“We’ve had a decade of resource wealth in Saskatchewan, but the Sask. Party has not kept up with maintenance on the health buildings we own,” said NDP Health critic Danielle Chartier. “Allowing these things to get out of control costs much more than maintaining them properly in the first place. More importantly, bad infrastructure like a lack of hot water, broken air conditioning or old, uneven floors that need to be replaced – they can make a patient very uncomfortable, and put their health at risk.”

The Sask. Party is shovelling millions from the health care budget to consultants and the controversial and ongoing John Black Lean program. Only $28 million has been budgeted for the repair and maintenance of every hospital, seniors care home and health facility in the province. That’s an inadequate budget, covering only about 2 per cent of the need. A Vanderweil Facility Assessors (VFA) report pegged Saskatchewan’s health care repair bill at a minimum of $2.2 billion.

The NDP has been calling for more money to go to the front lines of health care by cancelling the ongoing John Black Lean program and reducing the number of managers and administrators. Lean costs $20 million per year for Kaizen Promotion Offices and millions more per year for Lean “specialists,” who are not health care workers, to be placed in hospitals, care homes and throughout health administration.

The VFA report conducted in 2013 showed Wascana Long Term - Special Care Home Phase 1 needed $38 million in repairs and Phase 2 needed $12 million in repairs.


Read the email flagging Davies' tweet, accessed via freedom of information laws.