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Toronto, Ont. – We need top-quality cleaning and lower occupancy rates to turn the tide against hospital-acquired infections, the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) said today, not just limp PR campaigns telling people to clean their hands.

The McGunity government has done almost nothing to address the crisis of hospital-acquired infections,” says Michael Hurley, President of OCHU, a workers’ council of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).  “We’re suffering at least 2,000 deaths a year, at least 30 per cent of which are preventable.”
As of today, hospitals will begin reporting C. Difficile cases, and in a few months they will be required to report MRSA and VRECUPE has been calling for this for some time.  But the government has not required the hospitals to report deaths, a serious shortcoming.  Instead, the Ministry of Health is launching a campaign called “Just Clean Your Hands”.  But it is about so much more than just cleaning your hands, Hurley says.
The province must move more aggressively to lower death rates in our hospitals by lowering occupancy rates and boosting in-house cleaning capacity, Hurley says.
“The Ontario government must take action to lower occupancy rates in Ontario hospitals,” Hurley says.  “We’re at 95 percent occupancy in Ontario hospitals, compared to about 65 percent in the Netherlands.  Recent cuts at the Rouge Valley Health Centre demonstrate how the McGunity government is willing to force hospitals with already dangerous occupancy levels to move to even higher levels.  Overcrowding and sharing rooms and bathrooms dramatically increases the transmission of these diseases.”
“Similarly, the province has provided no additional resources to improve cleaning in Ontario hospitals,” Hurley says.  “The Liberals are ignoring future train wrecks like in Hamilton where St Joseph’s is planning to cut in-house cleaning staff and outsource cleaning, despite the warnings of British nurses who condemned the practice for the resulting rise in infections and drop in cleaning standards in UK hospitals.”

For further information, please contact:

Michael Hurley, President, Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE)
Cell: 416 884 0770

David Robbins, CUPE Communications,
Cell: 613 878 1431