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VancouverProvidence Healthcare today issued lay off notices to more than 450 health care workers in preparation for the shutdown of B.C.’s only acute care hospital specializing in geriatric health.

The news comes on the same day as revelations that the health authority that funds St. Vincent’s-Heather spent more than $1.3 million on consultants for cost-cutting advice. The Hospital Employees’ Union says the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority has its priorities all wrong.

“There are 1,840 seniors waiting for cataract surgery at St. Vincent’s-Heather,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt.

“But instead of using scarce health care dollars to shorten their wait, the health authority is shutting down the hospital and its operating rooms, firing health care workers while spending more than a million dollars for tips on how to cut even more services.”

Allnutt called on the health authority to break its dependence on high-priced consultants, branding exercises and corporate reorganization and get back to the basics of delivering good care.

St. Vincent’s-Heather is scheduled to close on March 31, 2004.

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Contact: Mike Old, Communications Director, 604-828-6771 (cell)