MUSKOKA — Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare ends more than a decade of community lab testing today despite widespread community opposition.
Lab tests ordered outside of the hospital will be shipped to a central for-profit facility in Brampton.
“As hospitals across Ontario face serious cuts in service and layoff of skilled workers due to underfunding, it is incredible the Ministry of Health would be willing to pay more to send community medical lab tests out of this community,” says Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President.
Last year’s RPO Consultants Report highlighted numerous advantages to keeping community-based medical lab testing local, including an advantage in cost, faster turnaround times, better access to results, and volumes that helped to retain lab technologists at the hospital.
Every hospital performing this testing had asked to keep this service to maintain efficiencies in their labs.
“Clearly the for-profit lab industry has got the ear of the Minister of Health,” says Thomas. “This is a decision that never made any sense from a public perspective.”
The Ontario government is moving through the 10 communities identified in the RPO report, individually announcing withdrawal of community lab testing. At present Perth and Smith’s Falls are debating the latest decision to withdraw community lab volumes from the local hospitals.
Five fewer lab technologists are now employed at Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare, two more are slated to go, making it more difficult for the hospital to maintain around the clock coverage.
The hospital has not revealed which additional services will be affected in its drive to eliminate a $2.3 million deficit.