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Although medical experts are blaming hospital overcrowding (resulting from cuts to patient beds) for infection outbreaks – particularly outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant superbugs – the Ontario government plans to cut another 5,000 acute care beds province-wide. 16,000 hospital beds have been cut in the province of Ontario since 1995. Currently, hospital bed occupancy is at record levels, over 97 per cent. 

Studies show that hospital-acquired infections kill between 8,000 and 12,000 Canadians a year. Fourty-two per cent of these deaths, between 3,200 and 4,800, are in Ontario. 

As many as half of these deaths are preventable,” says Sharon Richer, the northern Ontario vice-president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). 

Richer will join hospital staff, who are members of CUPE, at a media conference in Blind River, Wednesday, May 4, 2011 at 11:00 a.m. at the Community Centre Hall (Upper Hall), 110 Indiana Avenue, Blind River, in a tour of northern Ontario to heighten awareness about the death toll from hospital-acquired infections and what could bring the death rate down. 

A mobile hospital room display will be set up as part of the media conference to demonstrate the effective and thorough cleaning required to kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria. 

Marc Lafrance, Francophone vice-president for OCHU, will also participate in the event. The OCHU/CUPE infection tour will be in Espanola on Thursday, May 5

For more information, please contact: 

Sharon Richer        
Northern Ontario VP, OCHU/CUPE    
(705) 949-6221

Marc Lafrance          
Francophone VP, OCHU/CUPE          
(613) 889-2600

Louis Rodrigues     
First VP, OCHU/CUPE                          
(613) 531-1319

Stella Yeadon          
CUPE Communications                       
(416) 559-9300