Hy­dro costs are hurt­ing care at BGH: Group

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - FRONT PAGE - RON­ALD ZA­JAC

Soar­ing elec­tric­ity bills are sap­ping funds that Brockville Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal should be spend­ing on health care, the Cana­dian Tax­pay­ers Fed­er­a­tion (CTF) claims, cit­ing data it re­ceived from a free­dom of in­for­ma­tion re­quest.

“How is Brockville Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal ex­pected to man­age their bud­get when elec­tric­ity bills are ris­ing by hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars, de­spite re­duced con­sump­tion?” CTF On­tario di­rec­tor Chris­tine Van Geyn said Tues­day in a pre­pared state­ment.

“The more the hos­pi­tal has to spend keep­ing their lights on, the fewer re­sources they have for pa­tients.”

The hos­pi­tal’s top ad­min­is­tra­tor said BGH is do­ing its best to man­age ris­ing costs across the board and added a new con­sol­i­dated hos­pi­tal fa­cil­ity to be built in the near fu­ture will in­clude more en­ergy ef­fi­ciency,

The CTF re­lease cited doc­u­ments ob­tained un­der a free­dom of in­for­ma­tion re­quest; the in­for­ma­tion shows bills in­creas­ing steadily over the past five years, from $769,826 in 2012 to $1,138,733 in 2016, or an in­crease of 48 per cent.

Dur­ing the same pe­riod, ac­tual elec­tric­ity use fell by 30,501 kilo­watts, it adds.

“Fam­i­lies across the prov­ince all feel the pain of rapid in­creases to the cost of elec­tric­ity when they pay their home elec­tric­ity bill. But what many peo­ple don’t think about is the cost of the On­tario gov­ern­ment’s failed elec­tric­ity pol­icy to the in­sti­tu­tions we all rely on, like Brockville Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal,” Van Geyn’s state­ment con­tin­ued.

“In­stead of pay­ing an ex­tra $368,907 for in­flated elec­tric­ity bills, B rockville Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal could have paid for 15 kid­ney trans­plants.”

Nick Vla­cho­lias, BGH’s pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, con­firmed the ve­rac­ity of the ad­vo­cacy group’s num­bers, adding the hos­pi­tal pro­vided those fig­ures in keep­ing with the in­for­ma­tion re­quest.

BGH man­age­ment is work­ing on its bud­get to min­i­mize the cost of elec­tric­ity and its im­pact on pa­tients, he added.

But he stressed the ris­ing elec­tric­ity bill is part of a broader fi­nan­cial pic­ture.

“We have in­fla­tion­ary costs across the board, with en­ergy be­ing one,” said Vla­cho­lias. And he pointed to the com­ing BGH re­de­vel­op­ment, ex­pected to be­gin in early 2018.

The project will con­sol­i­date pro­grams and ser­vices cur­rently of­fered at the hos­pi­tal’s Gar­den and Charles Street sites to a sin­gle cam­pus at the Charles Street site.

The project in­volves a com­bi­na­tion of new con­struc­tion and ren­o­va­tions, in­clud­ing a new four­storey tower that will ac­com­mo­date 29 men­tal health beds, 32 com­plex con­tin­u­ing care and pal­lia­tive care beds and 32 in­pa­tient re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and restora­tive care beds.

The re­de­vel­op­ment will re­sult in a net in­crease of 22 beds.

BGH still aims for oc­cu­pancy of the ex­panded hos­pi­tal in the fall of 2020.

Vla­cho­lias said such things as LED light­ing and con­trol sys­tems will im­prove en­ergy ef­fi­ciency so that, while the hos­pi­tal will have more square footage, the cost per square foot will be less.

Vla­cho­lias said the gov­ern­ment has done a good job rec­og­niz­ing the hos­pi­tal needs ad­di­tional sup­port.

But Leeds-Grenville MPP Steve Clark said the CTF data are an­other in­dict­ment of the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment of Pre­mier Kathleen Wynne.

“It just shows the stress that hos­pi­tals have been put un­der,” said Clark.

He pointed to a let­ter to the edi­tor in Tues­day’s Recorder and Times by a man whose wife faces an anx­iously long wait for cataract surgery.

“What could have hap­pened if we had had the fund­ing in­creases at the hos­pi­tal?” the Progressive Con­ser­va­tive MPP asked.

Of­fi­cials in the pre­mier’s of­fice re­ferred ques­tions on the mat­ter to the of­fice of En­ergy Min­is­ter Glenn Thibeault. Of­fi­cials in that min­istry had yet to re­spond at press time.

It just shows the stress that hos­pi­tals have been put un­der. What could have hap­pened if we had had the fund­ing in­creases at the hos­pi­tal?” Steve Clark

FILE PHOTO

Leeds-Grenville MPP Steve Clark speaks to Joan Si­mon, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Brockville and District Hos­pi­tal Foun­da­tion, at the un­veil­ing of a sign mark­ing Brockville Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal's com­ing mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar ex­pan­sion in this Oc­to­ber file photo.

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