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LETTER: OSMH membership does not support 'community voice'

'Large memberships represent donors and supporters of OSMH. They do not contribute to governance and accountability,' a reader writes

OrilliaMatters welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected] or via the website. Please include your full name, daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following is from former city councillor Joe Fecht on the ongoing debate about the governance of Orillia Soldiers' Memorial Hospital.

What is governance in health care in Ontario today? With the new rules for not-for-profit agencies’ bylaws to be enacted in 2024, the current model of membership for Orillia's Soldiers' Memorial Hospital (OSMH) does not support the notion of community voice.

Organizational leadership is demonstrated by the quality of board director appointments which brings the necessary diversity to the board table. Representation by constituency groups leads to a large board and it is often cumbersome. I would argue that representation on the OSMH board from Orillia City Council is neither productive nor relevant.

Large memberships represent donors and supporters of OSMH. They do not contribute to governance and accountability. Fund raising is the purview of OSMH Foundation.

Follow the money. The Ontario government and Ministry of Health set the legislative, policy and funding requirements for OSMH to deliver acute health care. Provincial money comes with strings through contracts for services. Even a cursory review of OSMH website speaks to accountability to the community.

Steps for building a new hospital are many, layered bureaucratic process requiring expertise and connections in politics, planning, financing, fund raising, construction, community support that will take a decade or two. Consultants are employed to bring expertise and to demonstrate that the project meets the hurdles set by the province.

The cost to oversee a large membership is a significant cost to OSMH. With technology, the average Joe can get information on OSMH that simply wasn’t available 40 years ago. Most Annual Meetings are poorly attended.

My views are informed from being a cancer and cardiac patient at OSMH; a retired provincial civil servant funding agencies in Simcoe County and York Region; extensive not-for-profit board experience; leadership in a provincial regulatory body and a former municipal councillor.

Joe Fecht