Sterilization Scandal Prompts HIV Concerns At Canadian Hospital
Posted by pozlife on August 2, 2007
by The Canadian Press
Posted: July 27, 2007 – 11:00 am ET
(Edmonton, Alberta) More firings appear to be in the works as the fallout continues from a hospital sterilization scandal that has rocked Alberta’s health-care system and forced 3,000 former patients to be tested for HIV and hepatitis.
Premier Ed Stelmach is hinting that senior officials in charge of the East Central Health Authority will be removed in the wake of a scathing report on poor sterilization across the region.
“Let’s put it this way, there are further changes (coming),” said the premier. “Stay tuned.”
A source close to Stelmach later confirmed that the premier supports an internal call for the firing of two senior executives once a new administrator takes control of the health region’s operations.
The government forced the 12-member hospital board to resign this week after the Quality Health Council released a report on poor equipment sterilization at St. Joseph’s General Hospital in Vegreville.
The 25-bed hospital had to be closed in March for weeks to all but emergency patients after reports that instruments were being recirculated with flecks of blood and dead tissue on them.
Alberta’s opposition parties say this suggests Alberta’s $12-billion-a-year health-care system is poorly managed.
NDP Leader Brian Mason said Stelmach must shoulder some of the blame for the “mess” that is now affecting thousands of Albertans.
“This is a legacy of neglect that has affected the health of Albertans and Premier Stelmach bears significant responsibility,” said Mason.
The auditor general pointed out three years ago that the committee that checks Alberta hospitals is unqualified, yet the premier has done nothing to change this, said Mason.
Stelmach bristled at questions about his leadership on this issue, including his decision to wait two weeks before holding his first public meeting on the issue in Vegreville, which is in his own riding.
“It had nothing to do with me. I’m not the expert,” he said. “So if I walk into the hospital, I can’t tell you if the proper procedures are being following in the surgical suites.”
Stelmach said he’s also asked the health minister “to do a thorough review of sterilizing procedures and sterilization rooms across the province.”
A government official confirmed Thursday that 60 per cent of the 3,000 former patients who were exposed to improperly sterilized equipment have now been tested for HIV, hepatitis and other diseases. No positive test results have been reported.
Stelmach said with the changes announced by the province, which includes new provincial standards for infection control, “this situation is now behind us.”
But Liberal health critic Laurie Blakeman said it’s ironic that the same Tory politicians who provided all of the elements that led to this sterilization crisis now want people to believe they’re in the best position to fix the problem.
“Alberta is fabulously wealthy, we should have the best health-care system of anybody across the country,” said Blakeman. “I’m really disappointed that this government cannot provide that for Albertans.”
The premier also confirmed Thursday that the government is reviewing a master agreement for Alberta’s so-called faith-based hospitals.
The controversial deal more than a decade ago kept boards in place at hospitals with religious ties at a time when other hospital boards were being dismantled as the province created health regions with new boards that would run all health facilities in the region.
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