By Barb McKay
Kincardine’s community blood lab is in danger of closing.
South Bruce Grey Health Centre (SBGHC) CEO Paul Rosebush told The Independent Friday that provincial changes to the fee code to medical practices for phlebotomy services make it virtually impossible to operate the lab at the Kincardine and Community Medical Clinic.
“It makes it more expensive to operate these services at medical clinics,” he said. “It’s unsustainable.”
Rosebush said the SBGHC has been corresponding with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to get support for keeping the lab in the community.
“Right now they (Ministry) don’t have a solution for Kincardine,” Rosebush said.
There needs to be laboratory service in Kincardine for patients, he said.
“It’s really hard to ask patients to go out of town for blood work,” he noted, particularly the community’s senior population and especially during winter months.
Dr. Lisa Roth, of the Kincardine and Community Medical Clinic, said changes to the funding formula make it difficult to keep the lab open.
“It’s something that caught everyone by surprise,” she said. “No one knows why the Ministry did that. They basically changed the funding and cut it by 90 per cent.”
Roth said Kincardine’s laboratory is a busy one, with between 30 and 50 people having blood work done on any given day.
“If anything we should be expanding lab hours,” she said.
Roth said the lab never made a profit, but until funding changed it remained in the black and was a good service for the community. The Kincardine hospital takes roughly half of out-patient blood work orders, but it does not receive provincial funding to do routine blood work, including blood sugar and cholesterol tests.
To take on all of the outpatient lab work would be impossible, Roth said.
“That would double their budget,” she said. “They don’t have the staff to do that and they don’t have the budget to hire more staff.”
The Ministry is looking at the possibility of bringing in private services. Private services would work much the same as a public clinic in that fees would be covered, in most cases, by OHIP.
Rosebush said the labs will remain open at least until December when the SBGHC is hopeful a solution will be found. He said he will continue to keep up communication with the Ministry.
“We believe in the right care close to home philosophy,” Rosebush said, particularly because of the nature of the community.