A curious burning odour emanates from the Ottawa Hospital, where Frank hears a little exploratory surgery on the books has revealed puzzling contracting irregularities, some possibly going back several years.
While there is much excitable and ill-informed intramural chatter, senior managers have been advised to lower the cone of silence. Hospital CEO Jack Kitts has appointed VP Cameron Love to be the designated diner on this developing merde sandwich, and he’s chewing with his mouth resolutely closed.
Director of development and renewal Frank Medwenitsch, point man on the hospital’s ongoing major construction and upgrades, (in particular the $200-million quadruple bypass of the Ottawa Heart Institute), disappeared Aug. 19 on administrative leave, following a meeting with Love. Departing on sudden sabbatical at the same time, project manager Tim Richards.
Just as intriguing as these sudden exits were the reappearances of recent hospital alumni for discussions in Love’s office, including erstwhile engineering and operations supremo Brock Marshall, mechanical systems manager Jean Dostaler and procurement thingy Bill Wright, a noted collector of classic cars.
Whatever can it all mean?
In the total absence of information from hospital brass, overheated tales circulate of generous contractors underwriting fishing trips and even a toot to Europe for certain valued partners at the hospital, and providing a little handyman help around the house, a cottage spiffed up here, a deck painted and finished there.
Frank hears tell of boondoggles large and small, of sketchy paperwork like one mysterious $8,000 invoice for unspecified services rendered, on which no HST was even charged.
And how was it, some ask, that the painting of operating rooms at the Civic campus, a three-man job for which the hospital supplied the paint, cost some $440K and still somehow ran short of dosh before work could be completed?
Hospital unions are already sharpening their catheters, ready to draw unflattering connections between such dodgy dealings and the 87 nurses, admin and other assorted sluggos kicked to the curb this year to help soak up a $12-million deficit.
Frank is supremely confident that the redoubtable Mr. Love will get to the bottom of these and other mysteries – and as quietly as possible.