Outpatient physiotherapy will remain available


Despite rumours to the contrary, Community Rehab Services (PT Health), is not leaving Kincardine.

A story in The Independent last week said Community Rehab and the South Bruce Grey Health Centre (SBGHC) had mutually agreed to terminate the contract which had the company providing inpatient physiotherapy services at the Kincardine hospital.

The story also mentioned that the medical community was concerned that outpatient physio could disappear in the community because of rumours that Community Rehab has to leave its Queen Street South location.

Physiotherapist Karen Fisher, who bought Community Rehab from Janet Bannerman, said Thursday that she too has heard the rumours.

However, they are not true. Fisher said the building has been sold, but Community Rehab has a long-term lease and is not going anywhere. The company will continue to provide outpatient physical rehabilitation services to the community and has no plans to relocate.

Dr. Lisa Roth, informed that Community Rehab is staying, said that is good news for the community. Otherwise, people would have to travel for treatment.

With the contract for inpatient physio dissolved, the SBGHC is now the provider of physio at the Kincardine hospital.

Roth met Wednesday with Dianne Waram, vice-president of clinical services with the SBGHC, and the directors of hospital care at three of the hospital sites, to discuss how inpatient health care is to be provided by the SBGHC. Besides Kincardine, the SBGHC runs the hospitals in Walkerton, Durham and Chesley..

“We’re looking for the model that can provide the best patient care we can deliver with budget constraints in mind,” said Roth.

She added that doctors are committed to making sure the best patient care possible is available.

The SBGHC decided last summer to quit funding outpatient physiotherapy and to contract out the inpatient physio to Community Rehab.

Fisher said the idea was to try providing inpatient care on the short term. It was mutually agreed that the contract should be dissolved, she said.

A union representative believes the reason for the termination of the contract can be found in the Ontario Public Service Labour Relations Transition Act that came into play in 1997 when the Harris government was amalgamating hospitals.

Under the Act, said Ted Loughead, a staff representative for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), a union may claim that by reason of a merger, amalgamation or transfer of jurisdiction, the union is the successor union. OPSEU contacted the Ontario Ministry of Labour and it scheduled a hearing for February.

If the union were to win that hearing, employees would have to vote - union or no union.

If employees voted for the union, they would be eligible for pension and other benefits, says Loughead..

Now that SBGHC and Community Rehab have dissolved the contract, that hearing will likely be cancelled, says Loughead.

He believes Paul Davies, SBGHC president and CEO, is trying to save money by privatizing services to get rid of the pensions and benefits of employees.