Jody Wildman: Blind River District Health Centre Board Confounds Rather than Clarifies
30 March 2016
Blind River - The mayors of the Township of Macdonald, Meredith and Aberdeen Additional (Echo Bay) and the Township of St. Joseph, and the Chair of the Matthews Memorial Hospital Association (MMHA) attended the regular Board meeting of the Blind River and District Health Centre (BRDHC) Tuesday evening to ask for clarification on the situation facing residents of the Matthews Memorial Hospital catchment area.
During the meeting and subsequent break period, BRDHC officials were asked for clarification on whether cutting hours at the Matthews Memorial Hospital site was an option being considered for reducing the BRDHC deficit. Rather than address any specifics, BRDHC Board Chair Roger Boyer II and CEO Gaston Lavigne instead advised that a deficit cutting plan with 25-35 options for cost savings across all departments was being worked on and that cutting hours at Matthews hospital site was just a rumour.
"When repeatedly given the opportunity to simply confirm or deny that cutting hours at the Matthews Memorial Hospital was one of the options being discussed as part of the process to put together a deficit reduction plan, they deflected, obfuscated or tried to shift the focus," stated Wildman. "I explained that I just wanted to be able to tell members of my community for certain what we are facing."
In a bizarre twist, the CEO and Board Chair continued to insist the idea of cutting hours at Matthews Memorial was just a rumour even after MMHA Board Chair, Sheila Campbell told them that Mr. Lavigne had confirmed to her during a phone call Wednesday March 2nd that this was an option they were considering. Mayor Wildman also advised that Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Mike Mantha was told the same thing by the CEO during a March 4th meeting.
"The Blind River District Health Centre CEO and Board Chair seem to have decided on talking points meant to confound rather than clarify," said Township of St. Joseph Mayor Jody Wildman. "They kept repeating their script even when faced with an obvious contradiction. It was the most frustrating conversation I've had since getting involved in politics."
Macdonald, Meredith and Aberdeen Additional Mayor Lynn Watson asked the CEO whether they planned any consultation with municipalities and the public and suggested that BRDHC would have benefited in having a public discussion before rumours began to spread. Mr. Lavigne stated that they planned to hold meetings in communities across the BRHDC catchment area to discuss all aspects of the operations and the related budget implications in late April- early May. The conversation had to be cut off so that BRDHC could return to a Closed Session of their Board meeting.
For more information, please contact Jody Wildman at 705-297-0592.
Sault Star article: Confusion comes out of Matthews Memorial meeting