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New Westminster’s 116-year old acute medical care facility downgraded to outpatient and day surgery centre

More than 40 HEU members received layoff notices this week as health support services and direct patient care workers in almost every area of Saint Mary’s Hospital were handed pink slips.

The across-the-board layoffs hit operating rooms, the Geriatric Assessment and Treatment Clinic (GATC), rehab services, admissions, central processing, security, food services, housekeeping, pharmacy, and nursing, activation and respiratory units.

At the same time, Saint Mary’s Chief Executive Officer, Larry Odegard, announced significant service and program cuts to be fully implemented by mid-October including an end to surgeries requiring overnight stays, a reduction in palliative care and the elimination of surgical procedures for fractured hips and jaws, urological conditions and ear/nose/throat.

HEU spokesperson Zorica Bosancic said that HEU members at Saint Mary’s are deeply concerned about the job losses, their futures and the effective closure of yet another acute care facility in B.C.

“The layoffs and service and programs cuts signal the end of Saint Mary’s as a viable acute care hospital serving New Westminster, something that we were concerned about when the “purchaser-provider agreement” was announced in April,” said Bosancic.

“Now it appears that the new business plan has not only compromised SMH’s role as an acute medical care facility but is also paving the way for the introduction of privatized health services.

“Quite simply, this is another example of how Premier Campbell’s new era of deep health care cuts has harmed one more community in B.C.,” Bosancic said.

A total of 84 layoff notices have been issued to members of HEU, the BC Nurses’ Union and the Health Sciences Association with more expected before the end of the summer.