Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj speaks to a crowd at the Coboto Club, January 27, 2014.

UPDATE: Job Cuts Expected At Windsor Regional

Faced with a $20-million shortfall, Windsor Regional Hospital is cutting more than 160 full-time positions across its two campuses — and its CEO blames the provincial funding formula.

David Musyj hopes to eliminate most if not all of those jobs through early retirement and attrition. The cuts include 120 nursing positions and 40 other full-time positions in other departments. Eighty registered practical nurses, with a starting wage of $27.50/hr will replace 80 registered nurses who make between $31.02/hr and $44.85/hr.

While the Ouellette Campus employs a mix of both, the Met Campus has only RNs. It made the decision in 2002 to hire only registered nurses citing a belief it would improve patient outcomes. Since then, Musyj says research has not supported the theory. He says patient care will not suffer.

“That was part of the work we did, this time, is re-examine it, as compare to 99.9% of the other hospitals that have mixed staff, and the quality outcomes were no different,” says Musyj.

Susan Sommerdyk with the Ontario Nurses Association sees it differently.

“Studies and studies have shown the higher trained the healthcare provider at the bedside, the better outcomes so [patients] are not going to have the same quality of care,” says Sommerdyk, also working as the bargaining unit president for ONA at Windsor Regional Hospital.

The cutbacks have been hard to swallow for local nurses.

“It was a very difficult day and there’s more to come,” says Sommerdyk, adding moral has taken after hearing of the impending cuts. “Concern, worry, upset; what you would expect when people’s jobs are on the line and they don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring.”

Sommerdyk says it will be the end of the week before staff will know exactly where cuts will be made.

Administration at the hospital knew back in May it was facing a deficit in 2015, and at the time, Musyj blamed a lack of provincial funding to care for 100 alternate level care patients. Now the hospital faces an additional $10-million funding shortfall. This time, Musyj blames the health-based allocation or HBAM, which makes up 40% of all provincial funding. HBAM funding has been frozen at $19-billion province-wide and is calculated using factors including projected population growth. Since that’s down in Windsor-Essex, Musyj says Windsor Regional Hospital is being penalized.

“Toronto, technically, is getting more money for the same patient who walks into their facility because of their population growth,” says Musyj.

Executive staff at the hospital will also take a 4% pay cut to help fill the funding gap.

On Friday, the hospital received written confirmation of an agreement with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to provide a $7-million one-time installment of funding for the current fiscal year, $5-million for the next, and cash advances which will have to be paid back by the end of the fiscal year. Without that cash infusion, Musyj says the job cuts would have taken effect last fall, instead of giving staff the option of considering early retirement over a period of 9 to 12 months.

While some may suggest the funding shortfall and job cuts make efforts to build a new acute care hospital unwise, Musyj counters saying more than anything, the circumstances prove Windsor-Essex needs the new facility more than ever. He says the only hospitals that have been exempted from the HBAM funding freeze are some priority programs like pacemakers, very small hospitals, and newly constructed facilities.

Musyj expects the HBAM funding freeze to end once the province balances its finances in 2017.

– with files from Ricardo Veneza