Hospital monitors critical money situation
“You can only absorb so much.
It’s going to result in severe cuts if it continues.”
Hôpital Glengarry Memorial Hospital continues to face financial challenges due to limited provincial funding and looks for “every opportunity it can” to save money, says chief executive officer Linda Morrow.
Ontario PC Health Critic Jeff Yurek argues the province must provide more funding for all Ontario hospitals.
He recently said several institutions plan to lay off registered nurses, reduce programs and services and close beds, as a result of a $54 million reduction in healthcare funding.
But the Alexandria hospital has not reached that point yet.
However, officials are keeping a close eye on its financial situation.
“We are not predicting cuts and we hope we don’t have to. But quarter by quarter, we’ll be monitoring it, ” Ms. Morrow related.
She said if the hospital needs to make any cuts it may consider, for example, reducing the number of clinics it offers.
No staff reductions are planned and HGMH’s core services such as its rehabilitation, in-patient and emergency services programs will not be affected.
“It’s getting harder,” Ms. Morrow conceded, adding the Ontario Hospital Association is trying to advocate for more funding.
“You can only absorb so much,” adds Ms. Morrow. “It’s going to result in severe cuts if it continues.”
As the Conservatives reported in 2015, the Canada Health Transfer from the federal government increased by $652 million, and while the province’s Spring, 2015 budget revealed its healthcare budget increased by $598 million, that results in a difference of $54 million.
Ms. Morrow is frustrated with ongoing funding limitations and said HGMH is expecting to receive a one per cent funding increase, or $100,000 more, from the province for its annual funding for operations again for its 2016-17 fiscal year that starts April 1. But she indicated: “It’s not enough.”
She observed for the past three years small hospitals such as HGMH have received only a one per cent increase in funding, but, “We have been more fortunate than the large hospitals.” And costs keep climbing. Ms. Morrow relates the Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) has negotiated a 1.4 per cent increase in its collective agreement to the end of 2017. “So, we are already at minus 0.4,” she said.
About 75 per cent to 80 per cent of the hospital’s total expenses are salaries and benefits.
“We continually have to look each year for more cuts, more areas of finding dollars. We are getting near to a point where there isn’t going to be anywhere to find them.”
HGMH has been focusing on lowering its hydro bills and recently completed a retro-fit to replace light bulbs with more energy- efficient LED lighting. “The pay-back on that is supposed to be 1.8 years; there should be significant savings,” said Ms. Morrow.
It also has been trying to get lower prices for its purchases by participating in group purchasing with Queensway Carleton
Hospital. “There is a little bit of money there,” said Ms. Morrow.
The hospital also benefits from residents from Québec using its services as they pay added fees.
Another source of money is always contentious. Parking fees, $5 per day and $50 per month, were set back in 2013. These funds help finance programs and services that are not financed by the government.
PERFECT DAY: Abbey MacKinnon, and her daughter Keaton, 4, from Kirk Hill, hit the sledding hill at the Dunvegan Carnival Saturday. Conditions were perfect for the festivities. More inside.