Ministry continues Liberals’ privatization of health care

Ministry continues Liberals’ privatization of health care

George Le Masurier photo

By Barbara Biley

I work for Island Health as a medical transcriptionist at the Comox Valley Hospital.
On Jan. 30, all the VIHA medical transcriptionists, in Victoria, Nanaimo, Courtenay and Campbell River were notified that all the transcription for Island Health would be done by NUANCE, a multinational based in Burlington, Massachusetts.

VIHA has a contract with NUANCE to provide transcription software and for the last several years NUANCE employees, who work from home, have been doing VIHA’s “extra work”. This “extra work” currently amounts to over 80 percent of all VIHA transcription.

What does a medical transcriptionist do?

When a patient is admitted to hospital, discharged, seen by a specialist, in an outpatient clinic, etc. the treating doctor, midwife or nurse practitioner must dictate a report. That report goes to the patient’s medical record and is a medical/legal document signed by the dictating doctor and the transcriptionist.

The medical transcriptionist receives a typed draft report on their computer screen, along with the recording of the doctor’s dictation. The transcriptionist listens to the dictation, verifies the information about the patient, the doctor, the date and time that the patient was seen, and edits the dictation to ensure that when the report is entered electronically onto the patient’s chart it is an accurate record.

The report is, obviously, highly confidential and critical to patient care, includes patient’s medical history, diagnoses, current medications and treatment, family history, etc.

The transcriptionists who work for VIHA are required to have “graduated from an approved program in medical transcription” and are paid an hourly wage. If we have questions about something that is difficult to hear, the dosage or name of a medication, the name of a doctor, etc. we have access to the patient’s electronic chart and other sources for verification.

Usually there is a co-worker nearby who can be a second set of ears to listen to something that is unclear. People working for NUANCE have no access to the patient’s chart and no access to a peer to consult. The NUANCE transcriptionist who is doing piece work, not paid an hourly wage, and required to “produce, produce, produce” is under pressure to produce as quickly as possible.

If it takes five minutes of research to ensure that the record is accurate the VIHA transcriptionist can take five minutes. Five minutes may be a luxury a NUANCE employee cannot afford. If there is a “blank” (something that cannot be heard), the report is “pended” for review and completion by a supervisor.

If there is more than one blank in a report, regardless of whether it is done by a VIHA or NUANCE employee, instead of the report being uploaded to the patient’s chart it is automatically “pended”. The vast majority of “pended” reports, not surprisingly, are those transcribed by NUANCE employees, thus increasing the work that has to be done by VIHA supervisors.

My objection to privatization of any aspect of health care is that profit and highest quality of care cannot coexist and the motivation of a private “service provider” is profit. Since the 1980’s has there been a steady increase in the privatization of services directly related to patient care (as opposed to construction, paper supplies and other products and services that must be contracted from the private sector).

The consequence of this privatization is that the public authority that is responsible for ensuring the quality of care and the protection of patients, including confidential patient records which are essential to care, no longer has control of this work.

We were told that the decision to contract out all transcription on Vancouver Island was made following “lots of discussion at the Ministry of Health level.”

The timing of this announcement is interesting. A new collective agreement, if approved by the union membership, will take effect April 1, 2019. In that new agreement there is a memorandum of agreement entitled “Contract Retendering and Repatriation (Bill 47 Working Group).”

Bill 47 was passed unanimously in December last year. It repeals Bills 29 and 94, the legislation that opened the door to wide-scale privatization. The memorandum states “The parties agree that Bill 47 demonstrates Government’s commitment to a better path forward, one that provides stability and equal respect for all health care workers, and continuity of care for patients” and establishes a process for the Ministry of Health, the Health Employers’ Association of British Columbia, Health Authorities and the Union to discuss contracted out services and to “develop guidelines and processes that will be used to identify the opportunities, assess the practicability, and support the orderly return of these services to the direct control of the Employer where Government and/or the Employer make the decision to return of contracted services to the bargaining unit.”

Why would a government and employer with this intent move with such haste to complete the privatization of a service that is not yet completely privatized? In order to beat the April 1 date and present the union with a fait accompli and then say, sorry, not interested in repatriation?

What effort has VIHA made to hire more transcriptionists? There are jobs that have not been posted. Work that could be done by casuals is not offered to them. Several years ago the Health Authority claimed that it could not fill evening and night shifts that had been posted but most of the work done by NUANCE employees is done in the daytime so those jobs could have been re-posted as dayshifts.

The medical transcription certificate program is offered by BC colleges. An employer concerned about recruitment could actually partner with a college to encourage employees to take the training (which can be done on-line without time off work). An employer interested in solving the recruitment problem, if there is one, would work with the union to do so.

If there was a genuine commitment to highest quality care the decision would have been to find ways to repatriate all of medical transcription, not privatize all of it.

Barbara Biley lives in Courtenay

 

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER

Enter your email address to subscribe to the Decafnation newsletter.

More Health Care | News

MLHS issues letter of thanks to Comox Council

Mack Laing Heritage Society archive photo By George Le Masurier he Mack Laing Heritage Society this morning issued an open letter to the Town of Comox mayor and council. Here is their letter: We, the Mack Laing...

DFO allows herring fishery, despite wide protest

Conservancy Hornby Island has criticized a decision by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to allow the March herring fishery to go ahead. It undercuts efforts to protect Killer Whales and chinook salmon stocks.

Strathcona groundwater motion headed to AVICC vote

The Strathcona Regional District has asked the province to cease licensing groundwater for commercial water bottling and bulk water exports. It hopes all municipalities in BC will join the movement.

MLHS issues letter of thanks to Comox Council

MLHS issues letter of thanks to Comox Council

Mack Laing Heritage Society archive photo

By George Le Masurier

The Mack Laing Heritage Society this morning issued an open letter to the Town of Comox mayor and council. Here is their letter:

We, the Mack Laing Heritage Society of the Comox Valley (MLHS), wish to take this opportunity to thank Comox Council. Their decision to postpone any decision related to the Mack Laing Shakesides house Trust property, for three months, is to be commended.

We are encouraged that Comox appears willing to discuss their duties and obligations, as trustees of the Mack Laing Trust. We fully support an open, public, and transparent discussion between the MLHS, Council, and others.

Expert and accurate estimates of time, materials and cost should be sought regarding the conversion of Shakesides into a nature museum/house, as outlined in Mack Laing’s Will and Trust. The MLHS has found many interested local companies and individuals willing to support and assist in all aspects of this project. There are undoubtedly many more who would come forward, if a true community project is approved by Council. Cost to the taxpayer could therefore be minimal.

The MLHS will shortly issue a public position paper. We have always stated that close adherence to the terms of Mack Laing’s Will and Trust is necessary for the success of a modest nature house or museum. Therefore, we support a community-funded and supported Shakesides facility.

Soon, Shakesides could realistically become what Mack Laing intended on his death in 1982 – a small public education facility in the quiet nature park he loved, and which he donated to the citizens of Comox.

The Mack Laing Heritage Society can be contacted at macklaingsociety@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

LAING LINKS

Mack Laing

MackLaingSociety.ca

Comox Town Council

Russ Arnott, Mayor: rarnott@comox.ca

Alex Bissinger: abissinger@comox.ca

Nicole Minions: nminions@comox.ca

Patrick McKenna: pmckenna@comox.ca

Ken Grant: kgrant@comox.ca

Maureen Swift: mswift@comox.ca

Stephanie McGowan: smcgowan@comox.ca

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER

Enter your email address to subscribe to the Decafnation newsletter.

More Mack Laing | News

MLHS issues letter of thanks to Comox Council

Mack Laing Heritage Society archive photo By George Le Masurier he Mack Laing Heritage Society this morning issued an open letter to the Town of Comox mayor and council. Here is their letter: We, the Mack Laing...

DFO allows herring fishery, despite wide protest

Conservancy Hornby Island has criticized a decision by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to allow the March herring fishery to go ahead. It undercuts efforts to protect Killer Whales and chinook salmon stocks.

Strathcona groundwater motion headed to AVICC vote

The Strathcona Regional District has asked the province to cease licensing groundwater for commercial water bottling and bulk water exports. It hopes all municipalities in BC will join the movement.

DFO allows herring fishery, despite wide protest

DFO allows herring fishery, despite wide protest

Bob Cain photo

By George Le Masurier

In  a move that will certainly the federal government’s own efforts to protect Southern resident Killer Whales in the Salish Sea, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced this week that the March herring fishery would go ahead as planned.

Several groups, including Conservancy Hornby Island, and 42,000 people who signed a petition to stop this year’s herring fishery believe DFO’s action will have negative long-term impacts on chinook salmon stocks. Herring make up 80 percent of chinook salmon’s diet, and chinook comprise roughly 80 percent of Killer Whales’ food source.

Conservancy Hornby Island issued the following statement yesterday, Feb. 4:

Conservancy Hornby Island and the 42,000 and counting people who signed the petition to close down the herring roe fishery in the Strait of Georgia off the west coast of Canada are disappointed with the recent announcement made by DFO regarding the commercial fishery that will happen this March and April.

Conservancy Hornby Island president Grant Scott said, “We were hoping that DFO would listen to the people and seriously restrict this fishery that just doesn’t make sense. The quota set for 2019 is basically the same as last year. The fleet is allowed to take 27,500 tons of herring between the roe, bait and food fisheries.

This represents approximately 200,000,000 herring or the weight equivalent to the largest BC ferry full of cars, trucks and people. While 10 percent of the roe fishery will be consumed directly by people, most of this crucial part of the marine food web will be ground up into fish meal for the fish farm and pet food industries.”

Scott went on to say, “Herring is the cornerstone species for many of the mammals, fish and seabirds who live in or migrate through the Strait of Georgia. Strait of Georgia Orcas and spring salmon are listed by one arm of the federal government as “endangered” while another allows a massive herring fishery when 62% of chinook salmon diet is herring and 80% of Orca diet is chinook salmon. To kill this many
herring in the commercial fishery rather than leaving them to support these other species doesn’t make sense to us.”

DFO says SOG herring are “at or near historic highs” yet there is archaeological evidence and First Nations’ traditional knowledge that historically there was much more herring all around the Strait of Georgia. DFO calculates what it calls “historic high” based on one part of the herring run between Parksville and Comox.

At one time there were huge runs in Vancouver harbour, around the southern gulf islands and all along the Sunshine coast. They are all gone. 4 of the 5 herring spawn areas on the BC coast including Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert, Central Coast and the west coast of Vancouver Island are shut down because of over fishing Given DFO’s poor track record in sustainably managing herring on our coast it is hard for us to believe the SOG herring around Hornby and Denman won’t eventually go the same way.

Recently we have received a lot of support from the sports fishing and whale watching industries who say that combined they earned approximately $500,000,000 and employed thousands of people full time in 2016, compared to the herring fishery that generated $56,000,00 and fewer than 100 full-time equivalent jobs according to the BC Ministry of Agriculture statistics division that. They say herring are critical for the salmon and whales that are the basis of their businesses and an essential element of “Super Natural BC”, an image we like to sell to the world.

In summary, we think it makes much more sense to leave these fish in the ocean not only for environmental reasons but because it makes good economic sense.

For more information contact: Grant Scott, CHI president, 250-218-2323

 

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER

Enter your email address to subscribe to the Decafnation newsletter.

More Environment | News

MLHS issues letter of thanks to Comox Council

Mack Laing Heritage Society archive photo By George Le Masurier he Mack Laing Heritage Society this morning issued an open letter to the Town of Comox mayor and council. Here is their letter: We, the Mack Laing...

DFO allows herring fishery, despite wide protest

Conservancy Hornby Island has criticized a decision by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to allow the March herring fishery to go ahead. It undercuts efforts to protect Killer Whales and chinook salmon stocks.

Strathcona groundwater motion headed to AVICC vote

The Strathcona Regional District has asked the province to cease licensing groundwater for commercial water bottling and bulk water exports. It hopes all municipalities in BC will join the movement.

The Week: housing issues, sure, but this study is nonsense

The Week: housing issues, sure, but this study is nonsense

No, the sky is not falling on the Comox Valley nor are people being attacked by birds  /  George Le Masurier photo  (undoctored, only tonal adjustments)

By George Le Masurier

So yet another ill-constructed study has maligned the poor Comox Valley. We can now add “Fifth Most Unaffordable Housing Market” to our designations as “Highest Crime Rate” and “Worst Air Quality.” Well, maybe there’s some truth to that last one.

The latest study — concocted by Wendell Cox on his website Demographia.com — compared median house prices to median household income in nine countries, and then ranked cities or regions for their housing affordability. The Comox Valley ranked fifth worst in B.C.

There’s no doubt the Comox Valley has a housing affordability problem. Prices have never been higher. Rental vacancy rates have almost never been lower. It’s a problem that affects almost every community on the BC coast.

But as Courtenay Councillor Melanie McCollum has pointed out, the study is flawed.

“There is no doubt we have serious affordability issues in our community – however that study is seriously flawed and written by a pro-greenfield expansion/urban sprawl think tank that uses some questionable methods for its data analysis,” McCollum wrote on social media.

Real Estate Wire has called the study “nonsense” for five important reasons, which you can read about here. Though we should mention that Mr. Cox is an urban planner who promotes private automobiles over public transportation.

But the Comox Valley’s housing issues are real. Prices are high and partly driven by out-of-town buyers from even more expensive markets. There’s little incentive for investors to build apartment buildings, but when they do local governments rarely use tools to require a percentage of the units to rent at below-market rates.

Courtenay has two affordable housing projects on the go. The Braidwood Housing Project (35 units) and a supportive housing project (46 units).

Election polls aren’t any more reliable than flawed housing studies.

BC pollsters predicted a Liberal Party win in the Nanaimo provincial byelection, estimated that Liberal Tony Harris had an eight-point lead over NDP candidate, Sheila Malcolmson. The NDP won by a 10-point margin.

It appears not every NDPer is willing to throw Premier John Horgan to the wolves over the Site C Dam project.

  Who was it that said there was no danger from sewage pipes and pump lift stations near or in our foreshores? No one in Sechelt would believe them after a pump station failed and 10,000 litres of raw sewage dumped into the Salish Sea.

Fortunately, the Comox Valley Regional District is in the process of taking a long look at the best options for delivering and treating sewage. That could, and should, include moving sewage pipes out of the K’omoks Estuary and taking an overland route to the Brent Road treatment plant.

  Congratulations to the Comox Valley Regional District parks department for widening trails and improving access to Nymph Falls. We’re sure this isn’t a direct response to 3L Developments’ attempts to block public access to Stotan Falls, but it couldn’t come at a better time for those wanting a river swim this summer.

  Finally, a recent budget decision by the Comox-Strathcona Regional Hospital Board might shed some light on why there were serious design flaws in the new Comox Valley and Campbell River hospitals. Board Chair Charlie Cornfield says the board plans to spend $100,000 on decorative water fountains.

Whaaaaaat?

If the hospitals really need some visual improvements, how about commissioning some of the north Island’s excellent sculptors for eye-catching entry features?

Better yet, forget the idea altogether — although we do support public art — because there are bigger problems at the hospitals, which the hospital board has done its best to deny and ignore.

 

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER

Enter your email address to subscribe to the Decafnation newsletter.

More Commentary | News

MLHS issues letter of thanks to Comox Council

Mack Laing Heritage Society archive photo By George Le Masurier he Mack Laing Heritage Society this morning issued an open letter to the Town of Comox mayor and council. Here is their letter: We, the Mack Laing...

DFO allows herring fishery, despite wide protest

Conservancy Hornby Island has criticized a decision by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to allow the March herring fishery to go ahead. It undercuts efforts to protect Killer Whales and chinook salmon stocks.

Strathcona groundwater motion headed to AVICC vote

The Strathcona Regional District has asked the province to cease licensing groundwater for commercial water bottling and bulk water exports. It hopes all municipalities in BC will join the movement.

Courtenay urged to send climate accountability letter

Courtenay urged to send climate accountability letter

Illustration courtesy of Easy Science for Kids

By Pat Carl

The most recent Courtenay City Council meeting, held on Jan. 28, found
Andrew Gage, an attorney with West Coast Environmental Law (WCEL), on the agenda.

Introduced to the Council by Kelly Matthews, representing the Dogwood BC, Gage suggested that Courtenay join with other municipalities in sending a Climate Accountability Letter to the 20 fossil fuel companies most responsible for global warming. Such a letter sent by Courtenay “would start an important conversation” which serves as a preamble to possible litigation in the future, according to Gage.

Gage noted that climate costs, such as those related to fires, fire suppression, droughts, and coastal erosion due to sea level rise, as well as the building of climate resilient communities are chiefly borne by local taxpayers and municipalities. WCEL believes that it’s time that climate adaptation and damage costs are shared by the companies that have made money hand-over-fist while helping to create a global climate catastrophe.

After Gage’s brief presentation, he fielded questions from City Councillors. Doug Hillian cited concern about oil company push-back. Gage responded that the WCEL’s focus is on large global oil producers which do not include smaller local players such as most of those active in Canada.

Will Cole-Hamilton wondered what kind of response other municipalities had received from oil companies which had been sent the letter. According to Gage, only about three or four of the oil companies have responded by citing their acceptance of the science demonstrating global warming, but everyone had also managed to “duck their responsibility.” However, Gage noted that Chevron had disclosed to its shareholders the “realistic risk” fossil fuel extraction presents and that Shell had pointed out in its response that the company has made a $2 billion-dollar commitment to green renewables.

Action on Gage’s suggestion that Courtenay write its own Accountability Letter is deferred pending staff research until the next Council meeting.

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER

Enter your email address to subscribe to the Decafnation newsletter.

More News

MLHS issues letter of thanks to Comox Council

Mack Laing Heritage Society archive photo By George Le Masurier he Mack Laing Heritage Society this morning issued an open letter to the Town of Comox mayor and council. Here is their letter: We, the Mack Laing...

DFO allows herring fishery, despite wide protest

Conservancy Hornby Island has criticized a decision by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to allow the March herring fishery to go ahead. It undercuts efforts to protect Killer Whales and chinook salmon stocks.

Strathcona groundwater motion headed to AVICC vote

The Strathcona Regional District has asked the province to cease licensing groundwater for commercial water bottling and bulk water exports. It hopes all municipalities in BC will join the movement.

CVRD to create better access to Nymph Falls Park

CVRD to create better access to Nymph Falls Park

Comox Valley Regional District photo

By George Le Masurier

When summer finally arrives in the Comox Valley and our thoughts turn from snow sports toward cooling off with a swim in an area river, the Comox Valley Regional District will have completed a major project to allow for easier access to Nymph Falls Parks.

The CVRD issued the following media release.

“By May, those with mobility challenges will be able to more easily wheel to the falls from the parking lot. With the falls being one of the more popular swimming spots in the region, summer visitors will also enjoy the wider, more gently sloped trail.

“The new trail will be 3.5 metres (11.5 feet) in width, which is similar to the main trail that extends into the park from the parking lot. The widened trail will also allow emergency vehicles to have access, and service vehicles to effectively manage outhouse waste. Additional improvements will also include a viewing platform and an accessible toilet.

“Trail widening and rerouting starts Thursday, Jan. 31, beginning with the falling of approximately 20 Cedar and 17 Fir trees. Permits were issued by the province and the timber will remain in the park for habitat use. This work will close the Mid-Line Trail to the falls for all of February and March with a portion of the parking lot also closed.

“Park visitors will be directed around the construction with the Lower River Trail being the best option for getting to the falls. During construction visitors are encouraged to discover other parks such as the CVRD’s nearby Wildwood Forest Park.

“Wacor Holdings will be completing the project which is expected to be finalized in May. For more information and project updates, residents may visit the project page at www.comoxvalleyrd.ca/accessibletrail .

“The CVRD thanks residents and trail users for their patience as this work is being done to improve the park, and welcomes questions and comments at communityservices@comoxvalleyrd.ca or by calling 250-334-6000.”

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER

Enter your email address to subscribe to the Decafnation newsletter.

More News

MLHS issues letter of thanks to Comox Council

Mack Laing Heritage Society archive photo By George Le Masurier he Mack Laing Heritage Society this morning issued an open letter to the Town of Comox mayor and council. Here is their letter: We, the Mack Laing...

DFO allows herring fishery, despite wide protest

Conservancy Hornby Island has criticized a decision by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to allow the March herring fishery to go ahead. It undercuts efforts to protect Killer Whales and chinook salmon stocks.

Strathcona groundwater motion headed to AVICC vote

The Strathcona Regional District has asked the province to cease licensing groundwater for commercial water bottling and bulk water exports. It hopes all municipalities in BC will join the movement.