It’s a done deal – the city now knows what the hospital will do with the money we give them. Took a long time to get there.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON September 27, 2012    They didn’t kiss and make up but they did all sit at the same table and sign the same document and make nice.  Didn’t take long – maybe ten minutes to affix signatures to a document that had the hospital raising $60 million and the city coming up with $60 million out of the taxpayers’ pockets to build the city a new hospital.

It was sort of like one of those wedding receptions where no one really likes the guy their daughter married – but they are married now and you’re going to be the grandparents of the children they will have – so make the best of it.

JBMH Chair Stephen Friday on the left, along with Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring and hospital President Eric Vandewall sign the agreement that has the city putting up $60 million of taxpayers dollars and the hospital raising an additional $60 million for the expansion. Shovels will go in the ground soon.

This agreement was not easy to get down on paper.  While we were not privy to what the hospital did on their side – we don’t cover their meetings and they aren’t very good with press releases,  but the city was very public and very open.  They were prepared to raise taxes to pay for their share of the hospital expansion but they didn’t want the money raised going into a parking garage which is what the hospital had at first suggested.

It is at times astounding how the hospital cannot seem to get along with the city – they are both institutions there to serve the public and in the hospital’s case it is our personal health they are dealing with.

The hospital held a board meeting just before the agreement signing event. The Board members all arrived in the meeting room at about the same time but they didn’t seem to mingle all that well with the people on the city side.  There wasn’t any “frostiness” but there wasn’t the sense that these two institutions were about to do something really great and everyone in the city was going to benefit.

Mayor Goldring on the left with hospital chair Stephen Friday on the right, go back some time to the days when they both worked for the same financial management firm. They have an excellent personal relationship and, if this picture is any indication, we can expect smoother working relationships between the hospital and the city.

When the documents were signed and held up for the photographers to capture for eternity there was no round of applause.  The documents had to be signed and the city made the best of the situation.  Might have been better if the signing had been done at city hall.

The city will tell you in a heartbeat how much they have raised from the taxpayers but it isn’t easy to learn how much the hospital has raised.  One has to dig around to figure out just how much of the hospital portion of the $120 million total the city and the hospital has to raise is in the bank.   I didn’t hear anyone say how much the hospital had raised.

The Amazing Bed Race took in more than $100,000 last weekend and ran a two page full colour advertisement in a local newspaper to tell us about it.

There is the sense that the hospital and the city are not really in this together, which is both unfortunate and critical to the health of the community.

Stephen Friday, recently appointed Chair of the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital has got to have the sharpest collection of neck ties in the city.

Burlington is at the beginning of a process that is going to see fundamental changes in the makeup of the community.  There are going to be more older people in the city and those people are going to need superb health care.  For those people to get that health care the city and the hospital administration need to be true partners working together tightly – they aren’t yet.

Should an ambulance have to come to my house to take me to a hospital I will croak the words “take me to Oakville” if I have to.  I don’t want to be at JBMH.

The hospital has a newly appointed Chair.  We don’t know much about Stephen Friday yet.  He has a good pedigree and wears great ties but can he control the President and change the culture of the place to one that has the hospital and the city working together for the betterment of everyone in the city?

We don’t know that yet.

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2 comments to It’s a done deal – the city now knows what the hospital will do with the money we give them. Took a long time to get there.

  • James Smith

    I know many like the IDEA of a new Joe Brant. I just have too many first & 2nd hand experiences to be anything other than sceptical. We in the East End will continue to go to OT & later to the new Oakville hospital. May I have my city tax $ go to OT instead please?

  • Eric Howard

    Last week my wife Greta ( a former Oakville Hospital employee) was taken by ambulance to JBMH where she received outstanding care!