Volume 91, Issue 37

Tuesday, November 4, 1997

till you drop


A care-free holiday?

By Sandra Dimitrakopoulos
Gazette Staff

While stores become frenzied madhouses at Christmas time, hospitals frequently have to cutback during the holidays and 1997 may prove even tighter.

The London Health Sciences Centre will be reducing services from Dec. 15 to Jan. 5 due to funding cutbacks and an increased number of patients, said Murray Girotti, senior advisor to the vice-president of medical, dental and academic affairs at the centre.

"We just don't have the funds to sustain services and there has been an increase in activity," he said. This time is generally called a "controlled consensus" and although cutbacks happen every year, Girotti said this year it's a little longer and deeper.

Services will be reduced for three weeks rather than the usual two in addition to a 20 per cent reduction in the number of beds available to patients. Elective surgery has also been cancelled but emergency and urgent services will still be looked after, he said.

The percentage and severity of the cases have also increased at the Centre but as evidence they are doing a good job. Girotti said the length of stay for patients has shortened and all indicators show they are moving in the right direction.

Michelle Floyd, communications coordinator of St. Joseph's Health Centre, said they will accommodate the reduction at the London Health Services Centre by maintaining their regular services for a week longer than usual and only reducing care slightly in the following two weeks. St. Joseph's will only be closing 25 beds during this time.

With London Health Sciences Centre reducing services for an extended period of time this year, Floyd said there will be more anaesthetists available for elective surgery at St. Joseph's.

"This is a good opportunity for us to catch up on elective surgery and make sure the community is well served," Floyd said. She added this is not only a budget issue but also allows them to offer the community elective surgery if needed.

Girotti said he thinks it is good if St. Joseph's can benefit from the cutbacks at the centre and, rather than being in competition, the hospitals should try working together for London which is what has occurred.

Judy Leyshon, clinic administration for Student Health Services at Western, said their services will be closing from Dec. 19 to Jan. 5 which is also somewhat earlier this year at two and a half days before the university closes for the holidays.

Leyshon said she does not think students will be affected by any of the hospital cuts. "A lot of people don't want surgery over the holidays and you have to give staff days off."

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Copyright The Gazette 1997