By Barb McKay
The South Bruce Grey Health Centre is bracing for another challenging year financially.
SBGHC president and CEO Paul Rosebush divulged last Tuesday that the health centre was once again being denied small hospital funding by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The funding would have added $300,000 in revenue.
Rosebush told health care professionals, volunteers and Kincardine and Community Hospital Foundation members at an appreciation event at the Kincardine hospital that even though the health centre had done the right thing by lowering costs and creating efficiencies, it was being shut out for another year. The Ministry uses a funding formula where hospitals that see more than 2,700 weighted cases (standard acute patients) per year are considered community hospitals and hospitals which see fewer than 2,700 are labelled small hospitals. The Ministry looks at the SBGHC as one health centre, rather than four small hospitals, and groups the weighted cases for each site together.
“My jaw just about hit the floor when I found out,” said Rosebush, visibly frustrated.
He said he has already spoken with local Members of Provincial Parliament, including Lisa Thompson, to express his disappoint and was assured that they would take the matter up with the Ministry.
Hospitals are going through a tough time as a result of the province trying to balance its budget,
Rosebush said, and what the government keeps telling him is that savings will come by cutting back funding to hospitals. He said the SBGHC was able to make a case for stabilizing funding under the Ministry’s new funding formula, which last year identified the SBGHC as one large health centre rather than four small rural hospitals. The Ministry has agreed to allocate the same amount of funding for 2014 as was received this year, and not cut back further.
Rosebush said the board will continue to state its case to the Ministry to encourage adequate funding for rural health care.
“We’re going to continue to fight the good fight and appeal to their good sense,” he said.
As well as tightening its purse strings, Rosebush said the Ministry has also announced that it will be cutting back on infrastructure projects. Any project not on the Ministry’s list of approved projects for the coming year can expect to be off of it for the next 10 years. Rosebush said the board has contacted the Ministry to find out if the Kincardine hospital redevelopment project has made the cut, and was told that it would received a letter in January.
Regardless of what the answer is, Rosebush said, the health centre won’t give up on the project.
“It will never fall off our radar. We will find a way to redevelop and keep improving our hospital. You have my commitment on that.”
The SBGHC is facing a tough budget year, Rosebush acknowledged. Inflation costs are rising and union negotiations are still ongoing over staff wages and benefits. The SBGHC payroll makes up roughly $25 million of the budget. The board is also waiting to hear if a services plan being developed by the South West Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) to consolidate services, such as endoscopic and cataract procedures, will have a negative or positive impact on the SBGHC sites.
Rosebush said he is keeping a close watch on the plan as it develops to ensure the health centre has input.
“I see it as my role as CEO of the South Bruce Grey Health Centre that I am advocating for our four hospitals to make sure that we have adequate services to meet our needs.”