Hamil­ton Health Sci­ences cut­ting $20M

St. Joseph’s also re­duc­ing costs by $7M

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - JOANNA FRKETICH

Hamil­ton Health Sci­ences is cut­ting $20 mil­lion in costs to bal­ance the bud­get start­ing with the im­me­di­ate de­par­ture of three se­nior ex­ec­u­tives.

An on­go­ing op­er­a­tional review will de­ter­mine how to cope with se­vere over­crowd­ing and in­fla­tion driv­ing the an­nual fund­ing short­fall.

A hu­man re­sources ex­pert is be­ing brought in to make rec­om­men­da­tions.

“The changes are not easy, but they are pro­por­tion­ate to the se­ri­ous fi­nan­cial chal­lenges faced by our hospi­tal and sec­tor,” said CEO Rob MacIsaac in a memo to all staff dated July 18.

St. Joseph’s Health­care is also re­duc­ing costs, cut­ting $7 mil­lion from its roughly $550-mil­lion bud­get to bal­ance the books by the end of the fis­cal year March 31.

It said in a state­ment Wed­nes­day it is work­ing with the prov­ince and the Lo­cal Health In­te­gra­tion Network (LHIN) “to find means of en­sur­ing ad­e­quate fund­ing and clos­ing that gap.”

On­tario Health Min­is­ter Dr. Eric Hoskins says he ex­pects “ser­vice to pa­tients will not be im­pacted by any bud­get de­ci­sions.”

“I ex­pect LHINs and hos­pi­tals to con­tinue to work to­gether and bal­ance bud­gets in a man­ner that sus­tains qual­ity health ser­vices for the fu­ture,” he said in a state­ment.

How­ever, HHS has al­ready cut costs by $120 mil­lion since 2011 due to four years of pro­vin­cial bud­get freezes fol­lowed by two years of fund­ing in­creases that haven’t kept pace with in­fla­tion.

The lat­est round of cut­backs tar­gets the HHS ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil, which had about 19 mem­bers in 2016 paid about $5.6 mil­lion in salaries and tax­able ben­e­fits.

HHS is elim­i­nat­ing the role of ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent, strat­egy and in­no­va­tion held by Re­nato Dis­cenza, who earned $400,321.

Also de­part­ing is An­drew Dop­pler, who was vice-pres­i­dent of hu­man re­sources and made $236,291.

In ad­di­tion, Frank Naus is leav­ing af­ter his $273,108-a-year po­si­tion as vice-pres­i­dent of re­search was com­bined with the chief in­no­va­tion of­fi­cer’s job.

“On be­half of HHS, I would like to ex­press grat­i­tude and thanks to each of these col­leagues for their con­tri­bu­tions to our hospi­tal and for the achieve­ments they have helped en­able dur­ing their time with our or­ga­ni­za­tion,” said MacIsaac in the let­ter pro­vided to The Spec­ta­tor by HHS.

The HHS ex­ec­u­tive team is also los­ing chief op­er­a­tional of­fi­cer and vice-pres­i­dent of clin­i­cal op­er­a­tions Brenda Fla­herty, who an­nounced in Jan­uary she would re­tire this sum­mer from her $438,841a-year job.

HHS al­ready spends be­low the pro­vin­cial av­er­age on ad­min­is­tra­tive ex­penses, re­ports the Cana­dian In­sti­tute for Health In­for­ma­tion. HHS spent 4.9 per cent on ad­min­is­tra­tion in the 2015/2016 fis­cal year, which was above the na­tional av­er­age of 4.3 per cent but be­low On­tario’s 5.6 per cent.

MacIsaac was unavail­able for com­ment Wed­nes­day.

But in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by HHS blames the short­fall on hospi­tal over­crowd­ing, which is forc­ing it to op­er­ate 80 to 100 un­funded beds a day at Hamil­ton Gen­eral and Ju­ravin­ski hos­pi­tals.

HHS was at nearly 110 per cent oc­cu­pancy on Tues­day and has av­er­aged 105 per cent since Oc­to­ber.

The sit­u­a­tion is sim­i­lar at St. Joseph’s, which op­er­ates 25 un­funded beds a day on av­er­age.

“Staff have been heroic in work­ing harder and longer through these con­tin­u­ing pres­sures, al­ways putting pa­tient care and safety first,” St. Joseph’s said in a state­ment.

The prov­ince did pro­vide some re­lief in the 2017 bud­get, giv­ing each hospi­tal an in­crease of at least 2 per cent. For HHS, it added $17.1 mil­lion to its roughly $1.2-bil­lion bud­get.

Hoskins says the in­crease is cut­ting wait times in Hamil­ton. But HHS and St. Joseph’s say the fund­ing boost doesn’t cover in­fla­tion.

“To meet this chal­lenge, we are con­duct­ing a review of our op­er­a­tions to en­sure that our struc­ture and teams are func­tion­ing at the high­est pos­si­ble level, and seek­ing the most prac­ti­cal and eth­i­cal ways to ad­dress the short-and long-term sus­tain­abil­ity of our or­ga­ni­za­tion,” MacIsaac said in the let­ter.

Mark Ha­ley will spend six months as­sess­ing the HHS hu­man re­source de­part­ment.

The for­mer chief hu­man re­source of­fi­cer at McMaster Uni­ver­sity has done re­views for the On­tario In­sti­tute for Can­cer Re­search and Al­berta Health Ser­vices.

The changes are not easy: CEO Rob MacIsaac

HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR FILE PHOTO

CUPE union mem­bers ral­lied at Hamil­ton Gen­eral Hospi­tal in Fe­bru­ary de­mand­ing health care cuts be stopped.

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