Warning message

Please note that this page is from our archives. There may be more up-to-date content about this topic on our website. Use our search engine to find out.

STURGEON FALLS, Ont. – Yesterday evening, a public meeting was held in Sturgeon Falls, Ontario to discuss the issue of hospital-acquired infections (HAI). A hundred people filled the Marcel Noel community hall to listen to guest speakers and discuss the issue as it related to their local hospital.

Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) presented his response to the tragic outbreak of C. difficile at Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital in Burlington, which killed 62 people, and demanded that the government make mandatory the public reporting of these situations and ban the use of private contractors in the cleaning services of hospitals and long term care facilities. He reminded everyone that OCHU has been campaigning on this issue for years and has been getting very little reaction from politicians and threats of lawsuits from some local hospitals administrations attempting to shut them down.

The response of the Burlington hospital to their crisis makes a lot of sense to us”, said Mr Hurley. “They have established a standard of cleaning each patient’s room twice a day and have added $ 1 million into hiring more cleaning staff and providing them with better disinfectant. This is what every hospital in the province should do, before we face more of those tragedies.” The Royal College of Nurses in Great Britain and many medical experts believes that contract cleaning in hospitals is an unsafe practice.

Natalie Mehra, Director of the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC), argued that the issue of hospital-acquired infections is not only a personal tragedy, or an issue that each hospital should address on its own, but also a matter of public health and public policy.

Epidemiologists estimate that more than 2,000 Ontario citizens will die from infections acquired in hospital this year. This is 32 times the death toll in Burlington. It is the fourth leading cause of deaths in Canada. And it is because of budget pressures that many hospital administrators have downsized and contracted out cleaning services in order to save money. But this is short-sighted at best, since treating these infections costs a lot more than taking the simple measures in order to prevent them.

She called on a public enquiry into the issue of hospital-acquired infections, not only for the Joseph Brant hospital in Burlington, but for the whole province. She encouraged the community of Sturgeon Falls to support the “No more preventable deaths” campaign launched by OCHU and to make use of the hotline they have provided (1-888-599-0750), allowing patients and their family as well as health care workers to speak out on that question without fear of intimidation.

- 30 -

For more information, contact:

Benoit Renaud, CUPE communications: 613-818-0077, brenaud@cupe.ca

Michael Hurley, president, OCHU:
416-599-0770 x.21 (w), 416-884-0770 (c), michaelhurley@ochu.on.ca

Natalie Mehra, director, Ontario Health Coalition: 416-441-2502, ohc@sympatico.ca