The Ottawa Hospital is assembling an advisory committee of architectural, engineering and construction community leaders to suggest improvements and changes to prevent a recurrence of the procurement scandal that has resulted in negative publicity for the hospital and civil lawsuits against two former hospital employees.
Names suggested for the committee reportedly include John DeVries, president and general manager of the Ottawa Construction Association (OCA), Robert Merkley of Merkley Supply Ltd. and architect Barry Hobin.
“It is in Cameron Love’s ‘court’ (no tennis pun intended but I like it) to finalize and announce,” DeVries said. (Love is the hospital’s executive vice-president and chief operating officer.) “I was involved in putting together a group of leaders and possibly one or two may not (be) on the final group so at this point I can’t tell you who I suggested as it may embarrass someone if not on final group.”
A hospital spokesperson said in a statement that “last month in a memo to our stakeholders and the community we confirmed that we are enhancing our procurement processes, controls and bidding practices.
“As part of our review, we will consult local industry experts and vendors to ensure even more effective controls and the highest standards of ethical behaviour in our bidding and procurement procedures,” the hospital statement said.
Industry sources report that the problems only came to the surface in the past year when a former hospital employee accelerated his acceptance of hospitality and travel gifts from suppliers and contractors. “It was under the radar for many years when he took, say, two trips a year,” said the observer. Then, in final year, his expense-paid vacations accelerated to the point that red flags were raised, the observer said.