OPSEU asks hard questions about firm charging $7,500 for treatment not covered by OHIP
Ottawa (20 Dec. 2007) - Employees at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre are questioning how a private for-profit clinic gained access to their e-mail addresses and to lists containing their names.
On Dec. 6, MindCare Centres sent e-mail invitations to its official opening, using internal hospital e-mail to contact selected staff members.
MindCare has been a controversial addition to the Royal Ottawa. The private for-profit clinic charges up to $7,500 for a course of treatment that is not covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) describe the benefits of these treatments as “marginal, borderline and questionable."
OPSEU wrote to George Smitherman, the Ontario minister of health and long-term care, on Dec. 7 demanding that for-profit clinics be prohibited from operating within the province’s public hospitals.
When asked about the issue in the legislature, the minister said MindCare was leasing ancillary space in the hospital and was no different as a tenant than Burger King.
“Is Burger King going to get access to our e-mail addresses and staff lists?” asks Marlene Rivier, president of Local 479 of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE). “Clearly there is a relationship here that goes beyond renting some extra space in the facility.”
The union is concerned that MindCare is using its status in the hospital to gain credibility for a treatment that has yet be proven in large-scale clinical trials.
The hospital has gone as far as apologizing to MindCare for staff who openly question the role of the private clinic within the public hospital and the scientific foundation of the treatment.
“What’s next? Would the hospital be apologizing if the dietitians pointed out the health risks of a Double Whopper with cheese?” asks Rivier. “With MindCare, it appears certain commercial interests are taking precedence over the public interest with the hospital’s blessing.” NUPGE