Staff at the Durham site of the South Bruce Grey Health Centre recently proved they could easily survive in the desert as hospital administrators removed all staff food and beverages from the premises without advance notice.
After a few days of giving a new meaning to the term "streamlining" staff, the hospital came to its senses and now provides coffee, tea, and hot chocolate for beleaguered workers.
Now hospital workers are appealing the community for help to ensure SBGHC fulfils its mandate to the community as both a health care provider and a responsible employer.
The Durham and Chesley sites at SBGHC are the first two of four hospital sites to undergo a transition from full hospital kitchen to a re-thermed food system. Staff previously employed in the kitchen and as housekeepers are now known as "multi-service" employees who perform both jobs.
"This restructuring was never a good idea, but the employer has botched the situation so completely it would be almost comical, if the lives of so many people were not being held at ransom," said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. "Members of the community need to inform themselves what is happening at the four sites, and take action."
Hospital employees, including many who work a 12-hour shift, were not provided with food or beverages; while adequate storage, cooling and heating facilities are not available on-site for food brought from home.
This week, staff have access to complimentary beverages following complaints made at staff meetings.
The restructuring plan is also resulting in costly renovations to the Chesley and Walkerton sites. Walkerton and Kincardine hospitals are to make the transition to re-thermed food by year-end. "The union still does not know how much this misconceived plan is going to cost the taxpayers, or how long the rollout will take," said Thomas
The union is calling for more training of new multi-service staff.
Hospital staff are pleading for members of the community to make the management of the hospital"s four sites an issue in the municipal election in West Grey, Brockton, Kincardine, Arran-Elderslie, and other communities in South Bruce County. "We are asking people to make themselves aware and speak out as these issues affect every member of the community," said Thomas.