Nipigon, Geraldton hospitals gear up for merger

Two hospitals in the Thunder Bay district are looking to merge.
The head of the Nipigon hospital is reassuring staff who might be concerned about their jobs because of a proposed merger with the Geraldton hospital. Carl White says the goal of the merger is only to save administrative costs, not reduce service. (Nipigon District Memorial Hospital)

Two hospitals in the Thunder Bay district are looking to merge.

Patients probably won't notice a difference if the Nipigon and Geraldton hospitals join forces, said Carl White, executive- director at Nipigon District Memorial. The goal of the merger is to save administrative costs, not reduce service, he said.

"A simple example is the annual audit,” White added. “Right now we have two sets of financial statements and two audits and that costs money."

The boards of the two hospitals have already voted to form a single corporate entity.

The Northwest Local Health Integration Network still has to approve that — a process that could take several months.

White is the former president of St. Joseph's Care Group in Thunder Bay. He was there when the organization was created through an amalgamation of non-acute-care services.

The lesson he learned during that time, he said, is that it's important to keep the lines of communication open during the process. 

"I'm a great believer that, if you don't go out and talk to people and be truthful they'll invent their own story....You've got to tell people what's going on right up front.  People are nervous about change."

White noted "the biggest thing that people worry about is how it's going to affect their job. Period. So you have to tell people, 'you know you'll have a job but it might be a little different.  It may change but there's lots of work.'”

Asked by CBC News what he would say to Nipigon and Geraldton hospital staff who might be concerned about their jobs, he replied "I would say we're maintaining the same level of service in both communities. People need to work in order to do that."

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