HHHS board passes code of ethics

By Jenn Watt

The following are brief reports of items discussed at the Haliburton Highlands Health Services board meeting in Haliburton on Oct. 1.

How HHHS chooses its suppliers and what the corporation is seen to endorse is in the process of being codified. At its meeting the board passed a one-page supply chain code of ethics which was the first step in setting out detailed regulations governing how money is spent.

The code of ethics is a broad document asking that “supply chain activities will be open and accountable. In particular contracting and purchasing activities will be fair transparent and conducted with a view to obtaining the best value for public money.”

Board member Jeff Gollob said he thought the document wasn’t specific and wondered if it was sufficient. CEO Varouj Eskedjian explained that this was a generic document from the province and that authorization policies specifying the threshold for money that can be spent at various levels of the corporation would be coming to the board.
“This issue was raised in June or May as a concern by one board member at least about procurement locally and purchasing locally and offering positions locally and so on” board member Dale Robinson said. “There’s obviously more work to do but hopefully it answers some of those concerns people had.”

Board member Jane Taylor-Eastwood questioned whether the Costco spread in the front lobby that day complied with the code of ethics reading out this passage: “All HHHS employees will not engage in any activity that may create or appear to create a conflict of interest such as accepting gifts or favours providing preferential treatment or publicly endorsing suppliers or products.”

She was told that from time to time companies apply to use the lobby to display their products and that in return they donate gifts which are given out to staff members or to the HHHS Foundation.
Eskedjian said that point had not come up before and they would look at that going forward.

PSW increase costs HHHS $17K
The board passed a declaration that the corporation was complying with the increase in pay for personal support workers as specified by the province.
The Local Health Integration Network provided HHHS with some funding for the increased costs but that amount doesn’t cover everything resulting in $17000 extra per year added to the budget.
“They [the LHIN] fund just direct care time and we don’t know how to disentangle direct care time from indirect care time. That’s a base hit” Eskedjian said.

Staff vaccination procedure changing
HHHS’s policy of requiring front-line staff who do not receive the influenza shot to wear face masks is being revised after an arbitrator ruled on a grievance of a similar policy at a Sault Ste Marie hospital.

Eskedjian told the board that the arbitrator said there was not enough scientific evidence that the mask protects patients from asymptomatic transmission of the flu and that the masks were being used to enforce the vaccination policy.
As such HHHS is revising its policy. Eskedjian said this would require more education around the shot as he was concerned this decision could make vaccination rates drop among staff.

Night staffing at hospitals
Dr. Greg Karaguesian chief of staff told the board that the medical advisory committee had been discussing covering the evenings at both Minden and Haliburton hospitals with an on-call X-ray technician. Discussions around having one tech cover both sites at night hadn’t garnered much interest Karaguesian told the board.

“The issue is two hospitals right? I don’t get the impression either site is keen on it.” Talk is continuing about how to serve the need between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Eskedjian told the paper that it is a decision that will be made at the administrative level and that if two techs were deemed appropriate it would mean additional hours for current staff.