Ont. to help struggling Hôtel-Dieu Grace Hospital

Ontario's Ministry of Health will grant a request from Windsor's Hôtel-Dieu Grace Hospital for an adviser to sort out problems with medical errors and a "toxic" work environment.


The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care says it will grant a request from Hôtel Dieu Grace Hospital in Windsor, Ont., for a full-time provincial adviser to sort out its recent problems with medical errors and a "toxic" work environment.

"We did receive a letter from Hôtel-Dieu Grace Hospital and will be granting that request to appoint a provincial adviser," said ministry spokesman Ivan Langrish. "Certainly those details are being worked out. We want to ensure progress moving forward."

Hôtel-Dieu Grace said it needs more help implementing provincial recommendations that came after two women revealed in January that their cancer-free breasts had been removed.

Hospital board administrators asked the province to replace part-time provincial facilitator Malcolm Maxwell with a full-time adviser, who they hope will be able to help management get along better with the hospital's doctors and board of directors.

19 recommendations

The most scathing part of the provincial investigation into medical mistakes at the hospital described a "toxic" work environment. The Ministry of Heath report cited longtime unproductive relationships characterized by a lack of respect between medical leaders, senior management and the board of directors.

The ministry made 19 recommendations related to management issues and surgical and pathological errors made by Dr. Olive Williams and Dr. Barbara Heartwell.

Heartwell was cleared to return to full practice as a result of the investigation. Williams resigned and is not currently practising in Windsor.

Status of progress at the hospital

Maxwell, a hospital CEO from Kitchener, was brought in as a facilitator to oversee changes. But Hôtel-Dieu Grace said it needs a leader who can focus on building relationships on a daily basis.

Maxwell said implementation of the recommendations was going well but that vacant senior management positions have made seeing through on changes difficult.

"When we talked about it there seemed like a good opportunity to combine the one to two days a week that I've been working with the hospital with a temporary senior position to help move that work forward."

According to Maxwell, the hospital has implemented about one third of the recommendations including improving pathology services shared between the area's three hospitals: Hôtel-Dieu Grace, Windsor Regional, and Leamington District Memorial Hospital.

Hôtel-Dieu Grace Hospital says it needs a full-time adviser to help implement provincial recommendations after medical mistakes came to light earlier this year. ((CBC News))