Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Center replaces CEO McIntosh

Pinecrest-Queensway, one of six community health centers in Ottawa, has been the subject of growing concern in recent months, largely centered on management decisions and style

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The executive director of Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Center is no longer with the organization, according to a memo from the community health center’s board of directors.

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In the memo sent to staff on Tuesday, board chairwoman Janet Bowes said Christopher McIntosh was « moving on » and it was time for a change of role.

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“Christopher (McIntosh) led the PQCHC during the pandemic. During his tenure as CEO, he has demonstrated passion, dedication and commitment to PQCHC and its customers,” Bowes wrote in the memo.

Pinecrest-Queensway, one of six community health centers in Ottawa, has been the subject of growing concern in recent months, much of it centered on decisions and management style.

Bowes added that the board and McIntosh have « worked tirelessly to address recent concerns that have garnered media attention over the past few months. However, the board decided it was time to change direction.

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Michele Hynes, who was Director of Family and Children’s Services at PQCHC for 12 years, has been appointed interim CEO, effective immediately, while the search for a new head of the organization is underway, according to staff note.

In July, four healthcare workers were fired from the health center without cause, leaving what many described as dangerous gaps in patient coverage at the center’s clinic. Several workers – all of whom asked not to be identified for fear of losing their jobs – said some patients were told to seek treatment at a walk-in clinic or the emergency department because the clinic was not unable to meet their needs.

McIntosh, in an earlier interview, characterized the layoffs as part of a restructuring plan to treat thousands more patients at the clinic.

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There have also been allegations that city funds for community housing programs such as homework clubs have been misdirected and money has not been spent on staffing these programs as intended, which which means that some community housing programs have been reduced or not offered.

  1. Patients at Pinecrest Queensway Community Health Center are regularly referred to a hospital emergency department or walk-in clinic for care because there is no space available for them, current staff say. and old.

    Staffing is now at dangerous levels at community health center under scrutiny, current and former staff warn

  2. Signage at Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Center.

    Ottawa MLAs Call for Provincial Audit of Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Center

The city, which is providing more than $1.5 million to Pinecrest-Queensway in 2022, is investigating after receiving a complaint about the management of its city-funded community housing programs.

NDP MP Chandra Pasma, whose riding of Ottawa West-Nepean includes the PQCHC, and NDP Ottawa Center MP Joel Harden say they’ve heard many current and former staff and patients worry about the management of the center and the impact they say it has on some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.

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Pasma and Harden recently wrote to the province’s Auditor General asking her to conduct a “value for money” audit of the center. They had previously raised concerns about the situation with the Minister of Health.

On Tuesday, Pasma said the provincial audit should take place.

“I think it would be a good move for the new management and the board to open their books to the Auditor General. I think part of defining a new direction has to involve figuring out what happened before. I think allowing the Auditor General to take a look would be a very good step in ensuring that Pinecrest-Queensway is moving in a very good direction.

She called the news that McIntosh is no longer CEO « a positive step for the organization. »

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“Reports over the past few months have been of growing concern for patients and staff. I think it was clear that a change of direction was needed. I hope the new management will listen to the concerns of patients and staff, resolve the staff crisis…and ensure this vulnerable community receives the health care it needs.

Councilor Theresa Kavanagh recently told the centre’s board that staff and community members have approached her with concerns about the centre.

« I’m very worried, » she said.

Current and former workers alleged that a climate of harassment and intimidation across the organization caused some employees to quit. Many say they were afraid to speak out, fearing losing their jobs.

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Community health centers serve some of the city’s most vulnerable residents, including many recent immigrants, refugees and low-income people.

Patients at the health center have often suffered trauma and it is common for them to have complex health conditions, according to current and former staff. Also, many do not speak English.

Community health centers also provide social supports aimed at addressing the social determinants of health.

Pasma and others wondered how the center could lay off experienced healthcare workers – including two doctors, a nurse and a nurse practitioner, all with large patient numbers – during a time of global healthcare worker shortages.

Some staff on Tuesday expressed frustration that it has taken so far for a change in management.

« As we begin the search for a new permanent CEO in the coming months, we view this as a fresh start, » wrote board chairman Bowes.

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