Hos­pi­tal mon­i­tors crit­i­cal money sit­u­a­tion

The Glengarry News - - Front Page - News Staff BY AN­GELA BROWN

“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.

AN­GELA BROWN PHOTO

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.

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