By: Frank Kennedy

Laying off 387 nurses at the Toronto General Hospital! Heaven’s to Betsy – what were those nurses doing!? Weren’t they doing something? I mean ‘something.’ They couldn’t of all been discussing last night’s horrible dates. I know they all enjoy a bit of chin-wagging at their stations- but surely some of the 387 nurses turned up occasionally to check your pulse? Maybe they all got hooked up on the internet and nobody noticed but a few alert snoops from the admin department.

When the Ontario Nurses Association (OND) failed to win a court injunction that would have prevented the lay off, maybe that was the time for us potential patients to get real worried.

But maybe with all these drastic cutbacks of nursing personnel – hospitals will be able tot afford a few more computers and roller skates for the remaining nurses and closed circuit TV monitors looking down on each patient’s bed. And a disembodied voice will say: “Will Nurse Number 11 look in on patient 367. I’m getting positive computer feedback that he may’ve died three days ago…You say he’s in the washroom? Nobody could be in the washroom for three days…He’s definitely dead. A computer printout shows that he hasn’t eaten anything for three days. He’s dead! How are we going to explain to his relatives that he died three days ago? …Yeah, do what we do normally- ‘cook’ his death certificate. Not only that but he’s been lying there taking up a hospital bed for three days. Kindly remember, Nurse 11, that’s the cost of a suite at the Royal York Hotel!

I see that you’ve finally arrived Nurse 11! Now pull down the covers. He’s not there! Where is he!?…He’s coming on camera now. He’s giving me the middle finger salute! Find out, Nurse 11 where he’s been!…You have,…He’s been eating at the Royal York…he likes the food there better,…And he’s been staying at the Royal York. …I know Nurse 11, that you’ve worn out three pairs of roller blades this month but in the future you’ll have to try harder to keep an eye on your patients. Well you can thank God that he’s not dead – at least we can charge for these past three days.”

Some Money Available

Surely money can’t be the problem for hospitals – just recently I read in the Toronto Sun that Jennifer Jackman, former head of the Chedoke-McMaster Hospital, got $969,000 when she stepped down before her hospital was to merge with the Hamilton Civic Hospital. Poor Jennifer had four years left on her five-year contract and it was obviously based on 80 per cent of her $303,000 salary. Obviously nobody had to take up a collection for Jennifer when she left.

It is blamed on Premier Harris for his downsizing and hospital amalgamation plan so it must have had the directors on the Chedoke-McMaster Hospital board rolling in the aisled when they thought how mad Harris was going to be when he found out. Evidently this bonanza is only the beginning of mega-cash-outs by senior admin people draining hospital treasuries. Quick – let’s have another hospital sweepstakes!

I think that the ONA have got to get hold of the guy who sank his fangs into the Chedoke-McMaster Hospital for Jennifer’s payoff. I foresee a marriage between him, (if it’s a him), the Teamsters Union and the ONA. No more Miss and Mrs. Nice Girls!

When the Teamsters union dumps a load of ready-mixed concrete in the front entrance of the Toronto General Hospital – that is when the real Bargaining’s going to begin.

“I thought that’s where you wanted the cement!” a Teamster union official will say with a grin. And the kind of a guy I envision conducting the salary negotiations is so big that when he gets in an elevator – there’s only room for him.

And an equally burly nurse on reception won’t just ask for your OHIP number but she’ll ask: “You want a bed? That’s extra. And every time you call for service – that’s fifty bucks for The Nurses Benevolent Association.”

And she’ll pause and say:

Furthermore at this time we’re not taking on any new patients.