A pissy policy

Almost every day this summer I seem to have heard of some passionate, generous Canadian doing something to raise money for health care or various medical research projects. Some people cycle or run vast distances. Some politely strong-arm others to contribute to a cause. Some post wishes and dreams on-line inspiring others to donate to make the goal a reality.

Plus there is the vast army of volunteers who give, give and give to health care. It comes from the goodness of their hearts, whether it’s working a hospital information desk or a gift shop, being a candy-striper or some other function within hospitals and clinics, or canvassing door-to-door for a cause.

I mention all the ways citizens help because I have been greatly offended by the nickel-and-diming well-paid health care executives have engaged in. The most recent example is the IWK Children’s Hospital’s new policy requiring the parents of hospitalized sick kids to supply diapers. This is so miserly it defies polite description.

I’m in favour of cutting overheads and managing money responsibility, but all this petty little move expects to save is “somewhere between $10-20,000” out of a $240 million budget.

I’m sorry but this is a pissy little amount. I don’t understand why the IWK administrators have risked their and their hospital’s reputation over such an indefensible and easily attacked policy. If the 62 IWK hospital administrators who earn over $100,000 a year were to give up half-day’s pay that would save $17,400 and spare a lot of parents unnecessary stress. Would any of these administrators miss half a day’s pay?

I’m not a parent, but I have to believe having a hospitalized child is stressful enough without having an additional burden placed on them by an administrative elite who are clearly out of touch.

This got me thinking, how much, if anything, do the nearly 400 health care administrators earning over $100,000 a year donate to their health authorities or hospitals? For years the implication has been that these poor executives were earning less than their private sector colleagues and so that served as a type subliminal sacrifice. That was their contribution. But now that we have some hard numbers, we can see that their personal hard-luck stories aren’t quite that bad. So, what do they give back?

I checked the top dozen earners at the IWK and only found recognition on their website for three who are actually listed as donors. IWK CEO Anne McGuire and Allan Horsburgh are listed on the hospital website as being members of the IWK Health Centre Foundation Founders Club. These are individual donors who contribute $500 or more a year. Dr. John Hyndman is a member of the Founders Circle. These are donors who have given $10,000 or more cumulatively either in a year or over several years.

Would Nova Scotia’s other 396 health care administrators earning six-figure salaries care to tell us how much hard cash they’ve donated to their system in the last 12 months?

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6 Responses to A pissy policy

  1. WOOF says:

    Just curious: do the administrations plan their work and services on the government allotted budget or are they, prematurely, relying on the public’s goodwill to bail them out?

    I think I stated before that I won’t ever give a penny to places like AVH or IWK or QE11, etc. on account of painting these types of administrators as saviours.

    As for your column, a few years back I was, unintentionally, given the financial records to one of Kentville’s larger churches. This showed donations and such for the year and was used for tax purposes. My eyes almost popped out when I saw the piddley amounts most of the town’s hierarchy were giving to the church. It was the poorest members who were doing the giving while the church’s and town’s most “upstanding, influential and wealthy” patrons were giving pennies. Now you know why some prominant churches are failing. Good thing the government isn’t involved in them.

  2. On the topic of diapers and the IWK I believe the cost savings they seek are in a choice for cloth. I understand the real cost to health care is not the purchase price of the disposable diaper, but rather the disposal cost.

    As these little chemcial sponges contain body fluids I believe the IWK treats them as medical hardous waste and as such has these double packed and sent for incineration at a cost exceeding 6 or 7 dollars a kilogram. All are foreign imported products.

    As I operate a cloth diaper service I had approached them years ago to try a ward with todays cloth fitted product. They will not switch even for a trial. I understand not putting new births or two-day-old normal-birth children in a cloth product that they may take home with them when they leave, however, for long-term ward children cloth has better health benifits like reduced VOC gassing that shows an association with asthma.

    Please view my web site for more benifits of the cloth choice.. http://www.sweet-cheeks.ca

    I believe I could save our health care much more than any executive salary by saving on disposal costs. Then there’s the issue of operating room curtains that are also disposable. These used to be cloth and made in London, Ontario. I believe the disposable ones used now are made in the United State. There are no jobs there for Canadians just the green house waste.

    Diaper customers of mine have told me for years that they were encouraged to bring their own diapers for the birth of their child. I understand everyone is given a package prior to their birth which gives them a hint of the upcoming event and offer suggestions. I have had customers of mine take my cloth with them for their child’s birth so this policy has been out there for a long time.

    • Thanks for your comments. I had not considered the environmental impact of disposable diapers or the costs associated with disposing of them. But then the IWK’s policy announcement didn’t reference this either.

      I think that in a $240-million budget there are other areas – starting in the executive suite – where cost-savings can be attained without adding to the stress of parents and families with sick children.

      I fear that if they can start by downloading this cost to parents that administrative creep will start to add on more costs. If a children’s hospital can’t provide diapers, when do they decide they have to start charging for drugs or bandages?

      • Cost savings are cost savings… In the end more healthy people per dollar should be the goal. In so saying I don’t understand the high salary for so many health care professionals nor do I understand the high salary for metro bus drivers either. Like senor health professionals they too are part of the 1%er’s who service customers where by they earn more than 99% of their clients. It’s all backed up by the facts.

        Here in Nova Scotia only 17% of the private sector are unionized, while in government all but management jobs are unionized. Another fact is that almost 30% of the work force in Nova Scotia holds a government level job. Retiree’s looking to cash in their homes to move into condo’s and apartments to shed the property tax is becoming a reality. Just drive around the new development in HRM and see the high rises and ask the question: who’s going to live in all those units?

        I get your push for reduced overhead for health care and a better top down system because at present they are slow to change. I get management insulation of responsiblity and their reason to keep the status quo. Just like education here in this province, we are very top heavy.

        However, solutions need to be deleloped to work through these high costs and responsibility needs to be demonstrated for pay earned.

        My suggestion is pressure on a provincial government that supports this system. Their answer, to push things forward with another study rather than set proper management objectives for positions, is an indication that political change is also needed. These high paying health care jobs are protected from cuts. It feels like the old boys club, however we are downloading these cost to the taxpayer as you have wisely noted.

        I don’t have your flair for blogging but I see a financial health care leak and I tried to patch it with something I do know: cloth diapers. And in the process, create jobs here in Nova Scotia. If 10% of the diaper market in Nova Scotia was serviced by a cloth service we could generate 66 full time, 40 hr week jobs and reduce tons of green house gas. We are also supposed to be working as a province to find ways to reduce our provincial carbon foot print, so why is that provincial generators of this carbon who can do something about it while saving government funds refuse to listen?

      • You’ve made an interesting point about cloth diapers being ‘green’. Since health care won’t listen to you, have you considered going another route. Acadia University and the Nova Scotia Community College in Kentville have teamed up to create the Nova Scotia Waste Management Institute. They are using this as a way to teach other countries how to divert waste from landfills.

        You might consider approaching them with your ideas about disposable and cloth diapers. They work with Third World countries so may give you more of an ear. They may also be a different doorway to provincial decision-makers.

  3. paul says:

    Like many public funded enterprises in this province both Acadia and the Nova Scotia Community College make great PR statements out of doing the right thing for the environment, but are still very lacking in action.

    Nova Scotian Educators actually telling India how to do things in terms of Green is condescending. India and other developing economies are way out in front of Green Practice. There are no organizations in the government or the private sector adopting the thought of a single computer per employee. Virtual Desktop Computing is the standard and many a data centre runs via Solar or non-polluting Hydro power. In Nova Scotia we have one building that I know of that runs information technology on a truly carbon neutral basis. That Building is the Antigonish Town and Country Library.

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