Author Topic: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY  (Read 1480 times)

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« on: November 19, 2017, 09:39:03 PM »

I have been conspicuously quiescent  of late, in reporting tour support group of family members,   on the "State of the (Ste. Anne's Hospital) Nation", but I desisted deliberately , rather than being desultory in  delaying this document,  until I could collect enough concrete data to warrant comment, regarding several critical concerns.

Pursuant to accounts  of recent meetings of the Transition Committee, and direct discussions  with the likes of Michel Maisonneuve, Faith McIntyre, Walter Natynczyk, Lynne McVey, Patrick Murphy-Lavallee, Martine Daigneault and Manuela Fonseca, in addition to numerous floor nurses and front line orderlies, and Veterans in situ, plus my personal perceptions and experiences,   herewith follows my melange of mixed messages:

The Hospital administration is, yet again,   attempting to address the persistent problems of severe staff shortages, recruitment, retention,rotation.  reliability, unilingualism, etc., by holding yet another Job Fair, exploring the possibility of a free bus shuttle servjce, etc., ..........none of which will, in my opinion, get at the root of the problem, which is that Ste. Anne's is located well beyond the demographic/geographic pale,  unacceptably far away from where the principal potential pools of employees live

The  fact remains that, as long as there are no true, tangible incentives for people to make the long and costly trek to work at Ste. Anne's Hospital, our personnel problems will persist and prevail. .  Indeed, based on my own very recent encounters, the quantity and quality of staff serving our Veterans, is diminishing and deteriorating , day after day, with visibly poorer staff-to-patient ratios, expanded and daily  reliance on unsuitable commercial agency employees, etc, and a dozen  other deficiencies, meriting a separate, fuller, further report. All to the decided detriment of our Veterans, since the level of care is directly related to the essential complement and competence of the nurses and (perhaps even more important), the orderlies, so seriously lacking, and worsening,  since the ill-fated Transfer took place, well over a year and a half ago.

As an attempt at being pro-active, the Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs finally met with his collegial counterpart, the Provincial Deputy Minister of Health, in an endeavour to secure the latter's cooperation and agreement to implement steps   to cure the cancer currently consuming the promised pre-existing level of care.  A very commendable effort, but one which, I fear, will prove to be of no avail, because, I contend, the Province of Quebec, in the person of its Minister of Health, Gaetan.Barrette, is totally reluctant, let alone motivated, to expend any extra energy, or further funds, to relieve Ottawa of its responsibilities to former Federal forces. .

I can but ruefully recognize that, regardless of the various officials'  brave but bungled and belated efforts,  we Veterans will vanish from the scene, well before any progress becomes palpable.

I have long been urging a change in policy, which would permit the admission of the post-Word War Two and Korean Conflict Veterans  (Peacekeepers and Afghanistan Vets) to occupy the ever-increasing number of empty beds at Ste. Anne's. This matter is now, reportedly, under active consideration, but I find it difficult to understand the bureaucratic delays and inaction, bearing in mind that such a program  has already been implemented at the former facility for Veterans, Maison Paul-Triquet, in Quebec City.

I can but continue to urge and press for this important, bebeficial,  and much needed change to occur,  and soon, as it is long overdue.

In the interests of transparency and accountability, I have been repearedly requesting a full and true disclosure of the disposition of the per diem /per Veteran allowance paid by Ottawa to Quebec, for the care of the Veterans at Ste. Anne's, to verify that there has been no improper or unauthorized  diversion of any of that money, to other health facilities, or civilian patients at SAH.  This involves up to seventeen  million dollars over the past nineteen months, and it is both astonishing and shocking to discover that there has not been any verifiable accounting required or submitted of those funds, in all that time. After a false and amateurish start, this matter has  been referred for action to the Audit Bureau of Veterans Affairs Canada, which is now charged with the task of obtaining and inspecting the appropriate accounts of the Quebec Department of Health, emanating from a certified audit.

While I am not holding my breath on the outcome, which largely depends on the willingness of Quebec to cooperate, neither will I let this vital issue fade back into the shadows, where it has been hidden for so long. I will be among the first to applaud any finding that all is "strictly kosher".

In response to numerous implications and rumours  that senior executives of Veterans Affairs Canada, in direct relationship to their manifested record of cutting costs  at the cost of cutting care, I undertook to personally research the matter, at very high levels.  The initial response to my inquiry was unsatisfactorily unclear, claiming that such financial awards, misleadingly and mysteriously termed "at risk pay", were really only a form of  "holdback" of part of the total compensation contractually due, and released , in part or in whole, according to the job performance of the individual.  Upon my further probing, this obfuscating definition was revised, acknowledging that VAC has, indeed, set aside a separate budgetary line item for extra compensation (aka bonuses), to be paid to some one hundred or so senior/executive staff, in accordance with their degree of successful performance in achieving their respective goals, established at the beginning of that work year, and which targets had no connection whatsoever with any savings in costs of operation.

I am content to accept that explanation, it  having been provided by a source whose integrity I deem ti be unimpeachable.  However, I disagree with the rigidity of policy which precludes the transfer of surplus budgeted funds from one use to another, if required, but that's a matter for further discussion.

5. CONTINUATION OF VETERANS AFFAIRS LIAISON OFFICE(R) ON PREMISES          After many months of pleading and pressure to permit the presence, on the premises, of a VAC staff member, to serve as a direct liaison with our Veterans, in addition to providing even a slight sense of oversight of conditions here, the Provincial authorities finally consented, and even, albeit somewhat reluctantly, allotted unused  office space for that person, provided it was to be for a period of only six months. After a hard-won one month extension, the Administration is now sounding off about terminating that (very efficacious) arrangement permanently, even though it does not cost the Province one red cent for its operation, which has proven to be of considerable advantage to the Veterans, as well as to VAC's representatives on the Transition Committee.

My own assessment of the reasons for this unreasonable and unyielding approach, is that it may stem from a combination of turf-protection on the part of the Hospital's Commissioner of Complaints, and the inherent suspicion and   resistance to the continuing presence of any Federal personnel in a Quebec Provincial venue, under any circumstances, no matter how salutary.

In Toronto, Sunnybrook Hospital, also a former all-Veterans facility, long since transferred to the Province of Ontario, is served by a permanent VAC Liaison Office, in peaceful co-existence , and the Veterans at Ste. Anne's deserve no less, putting petty political peeves aside.

We should defiantly continue to make an issue of this issue, until a proper and permanent policy statement is issued, for the protection of our increasingly vulnerable Veterans. They deserve no less, nor should we settle for less.

My personal experiences, along with my observation of numerous other Veterans here, lead me to make the greatly gratifying statement that, insofar as pertains to general medical, specialist, dental and clinical services rendered, the level of care, competence and compassion evinced in the prime performance of our  professional personnel, is paramount throughout.

That is the one clearly "Good" item covered. The remainder may be  categorized as "Bad" , or "Ugly", or as the jury is still out. 

Interested recipients are respectfully invited  to read,  review and, if you care to,  re-post and share this update on the latest lowdown. As for those chosen others, to  whom this is a not-so-thinly veiled plea for actual action, do please do your shtick, and  get on the  stick !


Wolf William Solkin.

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