$1.4 million for area hospitals
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Feb 26, 2007  |  Vote 0    0

$1.4 million for area hospitals

St. Marys Journal Argus

HURON PERTH HEALTH CARE ALLIANCE

The four hospitals in the Huron-Perth Health Care Alliance will receive a share of $200 million in extra funding announced by the province last week.

"It was great to get the funding," Alliance CEO Andrew Williams noted on Monday.

Stratford General will receive $732,200, more than half, while St. Marys Memorial will receive $209,900, Seaforth Community $215,200, and Clinton Public gets $269,100.

"There are two good things, in my mind, from the announcements," CEO Williams said.

"First, the government acknowledged the challenges that small and rural hospitals are facing. In their $200 million total, they identified $19 million to go to small and rural hospitals.

"So we qualified for that under that pot of money," he said.

"And they also put aside $65 million for 32 hospitals that, although in deficit, were appropriately going through the budget balanced plan process," the CEO said.

"That is specifically for hospitals which are on the right track in the ministry's mind with respect for planning (to reduce deficits)."

The Alliance can also apply for some of the $91 million set aside for restructuring costs.

"It does not balance the budget, obviously. It is one-time transitional funding, so it does not address the longer term challenges we are facing," Williams said

Government wouldn't approve Alliance plan

Also last week, the Huron-Perth Health Care Alliance learned that their plan on how to go about cutting $7 million and balancing the 2006 budget -- as mandated by the government -- was not going to be approved.

"We met with them last week, and they were very clear that they would not be accepting any clinical service changes that adversely affect patients, unless there's a viable community alternative," Williams said.

"For example, we had put in our plan to divest outpatient physiotherapy. They did not approve those sorts of proposed changes," Williams said.

"And that was a large part of our plan. We felt there were things we offered in the hospital that could be done elsewhere. So, we said, if there is an alternative, this makes sense.

"We knew going in there had to be clear alternatives in the community for the ministry to approve some of the proposals in the plan."

Williams said bed closures in the plan were approved in St. Marys, Clinton and Seaforth, but not at the Stratford site. The proposal had included reduction of 47 beds, including 19 in Seaforth, 18 in Stratford, six at St Marys and four in Clinton.

"The Stratford site has the only rehab beds in the Alliance and there are a certain number of beds the ministry feels we should have in Huron-Perth. We aren't even at that level. So they felt that closing more was not a good idea."

Williams said he got the formal letter from the ministry about their plan on Monday.

Now Alliance officials will go through what's been approved by the government, and schedule when those changes will take place.

As for the rest, they'll look to the province, Williams said.

"Our assumption is because they have not approved a large portion of the plan, that we'll now sit down with them and look at different alternatives.

"Because we still have a deficit," Andrew Williams said. "We need to get the organization into a surplus position to allow us to reinvest back into equipment, and facilities and training, all things that we are not doing enough of, given our financial situation."

"We need to go through what they've approved and rework those numbers. That's what we'll be doing over the next few weeks."

Every attempt will be made to limit layoffs, the CEO said.

"Our goal has always been; number one -- we want to maintain and enhance delivery of services. Number two, when we do make changes that affect staff, we want to minimize involuntary layoffs. That's a very clear goal of ours."

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