Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)

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

Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU)

October 27, 2011 11:44 ET

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

ALMONTE, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 27, 2011) - At a Almonte 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.

This summer the deaths of 20 patients at Ontario hospitals – the majority of them in the Niagara region – from C. difficile drew widespread attention to the issue of hospital-acquired infections which are the fourth-leading cause of death and kill between 3,500 and 5,000 people in Ontario hospitals each year. At least one-half of these deaths are preventable.

Sharon Richer, the northern Ontario president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), said at today's media conference that the suffering and deaths of thousands of Ontarians from hospital-acquired infections are so regrettable because they are indeed preventable. In an effort to increase public awareness of the issue, OCHU/CUPE has launched a tour of 30 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.

Health care leaders make a direct connection between hospital overcrowding and superbug outbreaks. The Ministry of Health has supervised the closure of 18,500 beds over the last 20 years, with over 600 cut in just this last year. 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.

"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 Haliburton, Midland, Cobourg and Brockville between November 7 to 10.

Contact Information

    Sharon Richer
    Northern Ontario VP
    (705) 698-6668

    Louis Rodrigues
    First VP
    (613) 531-1319

    CUPE Communications
    Stella Yeadon
    (416) 559-9300