The medical and dental staff at the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre in Moncton have unanimously passed a resolution to cut ties with the Vitalité Health Network.
All 226 members have decided they want to be autonomous after four-and-a-half years under the regional health authority, says Dr. Hubert Dupuis, president of the medical staff.
He hopes other hospitals will follow the Dumont's lead.
"We have the distinct impression things are going in the wrong direction," said Dupuis.
'It is a hindering of our ability to treat patients and help our population health care-wise.' —Dr. Hubert Dupuis, medical staff president
"This administrative structure … and the governance of Vitalité is not working and is not resolving any problems and is not helping us to treat our patients," he said.
Instead, administrative red tape is becoming a hindrance on patient care, said Dupuis, describing the administration as "frozen molasses."
"They're not very active, not very forthcoming, they're not there, they're absent. And you never know who you should contact. It's always: 'Well, we're in this process, and we have to do this and that,’ and the answers never come up," he said.
"So it is a hindering of our ability to treat patients and help our population health care-wise."
It will be up to the Department of Health to decide whether to allow Vitalité's largest hospital — or any other hospital — to part ways with the regional health authority.
But Health Minister Ted Flemming says he has no plans to set up another governing body.
"I'm not in the happiness business. I'm in the health care business," he said.
"You know, I don't know really what the tax-paying public are supposed to do, whether I'm supposed to take a bunch of public money, taxpayers' money and run around and try to make people happy."
The minister says he is confident the newly-hired CEO of Vitalité, Rino Volpé, will turn the situation around.
"I can assure you [Volpé]
will be neither inactive or absent. So if that's their concern, they should be confident and comforted that I'm sure that won't stay that way very long," Flemming said.
Vitalité officials plan to meet with the medical staff "to see what their requests are and go from there," said vice-president Stéphane Legacy.
"We would like for now to handle this matter internally and see if we can arrive to some sort of conclusion," Legacy said.
But Dupuis maintains the only satisfactory solution would be to give the Dumont its own board of governors, local administration and local budget.