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Government & policy

Kingston General’s CEO forced out

TORONTO – David Caplan, Ontario’s new Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, notified Kingston General Hospital (KGH) of his intent to recommend that a supervisor be appointed for the hospital.

The minister’s actions were prompted by the findings and recommendations of a report prepared by KGH Investigator, Graham Scott. The report indicates a series of long-standing governance, management and financial issues at the hospital that need to be addressed. The report is the result of a three-month review of the hospital.

“The (Dalton) McGuinty government is committed to ensuring that residents of Kingston are well served by Kingston General Hospital,” said Caplan. “The findings of Graham’s Scott’s report clearly indicate there are serious ongoing and outstanding issues at the hospital that must be addressed. I believe the appointment of a supervisor would be in the public interest.”

A feisty editorial in the city’s main daily newspaper, the Kingston Whig Standard, took a somewhat different view. According to the Whig, “It’s difficult to look at the pending dismissal of Kingston General Hospital chief executive officer Joe de Mora and the eventual replacement of board chairwoman Linda Ann Daly as anything but the political hatchet job many were expecting.

“The hospital’s management and governance teams, embodied in de Mora and Daly, have clearly been a pain in the neck for health ministry officials – specifically in their very loud and public demands for more funding for KGH.

“De Mora and the KGH directors had clearly run afoul of the provincial government. Outgoing Health Minister George Smitherman was not happy with the recurring deficit budgets, projected at $13.5 million for 2007-08 and $27.5 million for 2008-09.

“Then came the KGH campaign calling for more money to deal with those chronic budget shortfalls – a tactic that embarrassed the Liberal government around the time of last fall’s election.

“And behind the scenes there appears to have been an ongoing dispute between KGH and the southeast region’s Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), the provincial body in charge of all health-care issues.

“This type of conflict is not new. In fact, Scott’s report refers to the ‘often combative relationship’ that exists between many hospitals and the provincial health ministry. But KGH carried on the feud in its dealings with the newly formed LHIN, and that didn’t sit well with the Liberal government that created the LHINS.”

For his part, Scott criticized the ‘top-down’ management style at Kingston General, and hints that the management team did not adopt the best cost-control practices available to them. “If there is a sad reality in the conclusions, it is the lost time and opportunity to better serve patients and running-up of substantial debt which will limit the flexibility of the hospital as these matters are addressed and corrected,” Scott wrote.