PEMBROKE, ON — CUPE asked today why at least one major institution representing 3 large Toronto hospitals has ended its contract with the company that reprocesses and sterilizes its surgical instruments over quality issues, but Pembroke Regional Hospital would sign a 5 year contract with the same company?

After 4 years, Trillium Health Partners, with 1250 hospital beds and many operating suites, ended their 10 year contract with SteriPro and brought sterilization of instruments back in house. Quality issues eventually led to the end of the relationship.

Joe Ricci, president of CUPE local 5180 that represents staff at Trillium Health Partners and also staff at SteriPro says “blood and bone matter returning on instruments was a problem. Did the Pembroke Regional Hospital ever talk to Trillium partners? I know that CUPE raised these concerns with the hospital here and asked them to. If they had, I don’t know why the hospital here signed a contract.”

Although CUPE did ask that the Pembroke Regional Hospital do a thorough investigation of the performance of SteriPro or complete a comprehensive risk assessment, “we don’t believe that was ever done,” says Michael Hurley president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU)/CUPE.

While the sterilization quality issues are a significant concern, the Pembroke contract also involves the transportation of “very delicate surgical instruments over rural highways in all weather conditions, which is not recommended by the instrument manufacturers. We feel this compounds the quality problems with the contract,” Hurley says.

Simone Burger, vice-president of CUPE local 1502, which represents staff at the Pembroke hospital says the union made many attempts to urge the hospital to look at the contracted out company’s performance at other hospitals, “but these have been ignored, unfortunately. We are also dismayed that health funding that should be going to patient care, is now going into the huge expenditure the hospital must make on surgical trays and equipment to use this contractor, in order to have sufficient supply on hand.”

Burger reiterated her call urging the Pembroke hospital to reconsider the contracting out of surgical equipment sterilization.

For further information:

Simone Burger
Vice-president CUPE Local 1502

Michael Hurley
President Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU)/CUPE

Stella Yeadon
CUPE Communications