Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)

Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)
Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU)

Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU)

June 30, 2011 13:55 ET

Hospital-acquired infection tour urges Ontario health minister to bring down death rates

LINDSAY, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 30, 2011) - At a Lindsay media conference today, hospital staff urged Ontario's health minister to bring down death rates from hospital-acquired infections by lowering hospital occupancy rates, doing a deep clean of Ontario's hospitals and providing more resources for cleaning and infection control.

Sharon Richer, the northern Ontario president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), said the suffering and deaths of thousands of Ontarians from hospital-acquired infections are so regrettable because they are preventable. To draw attention to this leading cause of preventable death, OCHU/CUPE has launched a tour of several dozen Ontario communities, using a theatre set representing a hospital room to demonstrate the disinfection of a room that has been occupied by a patient with a superbug like C. difficile, VRE or MRSA.

Studies suggest that hospital-acquired infections kill between 3,200 and 5,000 Ontarians each year. While health care leaders make a direct connection between hospital overcrowding and superbug outbreaks, the Ontario government policies will lead to another 5,000 bed cuts province-wide. Hospital bed occupancy is at a record level (over 97 per cent) and Ontario has fewer hospital beds per 1,000 of the population than any province. Countries, like the Netherlands, with much lower occupancy rates have correspondingly lower death rates from hospital-acquired infections.

Between 1991 and 2003, a period when 16,000 hospital beds were cut in Ontario, the rate of patients contracting C. difficile increased almost fivefold. Outbreaks of other types of hospital-associated infections also rose.

Recent deaths of five patients at Niagara region hospitals from a C. difficile outbreak are drawing outrage from the community because the deaths which occurred between May 12 and June 16 went unreported until a week after the last death occurred.

"Public awareness about hospital-acquired infections is increasing and that is positive," said OCHU vice-president Louis Rodrigues. "We are hopeful that the Ontario government responds accordingly by requiring hospitals to report deaths of patients with superbug infections."

Richer and Rodrigues called on the province "to provide resources for a deep clean of Ontario hospitals as the United Kingdom has done. Contracted-out hospital cleaning, a practice the Royal College of Nurses has said is dangerous and unsafe, should be prohibited. And, we need more resources for cleaning on an ongoing basis and for infection control."

The OCHU mobile hospital room will be in Windsor on Monday, July 11, and was in Peterborough yesterday.

Contact Information

  • Sharon Richer
    Northern Ontario VP, OCHU/CUPE
    (705) 698-6668

    Louis Rodrigues
    First VP, OCHU/CUPE
    (613) 531-1319

    Stella Yeadon
    CUPE Communications
    (416) 559-9300