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Sudbury hospital gains $3.9 million while MOHLTC reviews Muskoka proposal for $6 million

The Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC) hospital is refusing to sign an "accountability agreement" with its Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), fearing it could lead to further service cuts and the loss of one of its two remaining sites (Huntsville District Memorial Hospital and the South Muskoka Memorial Hospital in Bracebridge). The hospital has already closed a third site recently.

Board chair Sven Miglin explained “We do not believe that is the best intent for this community. This board firmly believes that Muskoka requires two acute care hospitals.”

Local newspapers report that since 2009, the organization has found approximately $3.1 million in savings by closing beds, reducing staff, and shutting down the Burk’s Falls & District Health Centre. MAHC is currently forecasting a $4.2 million deficit for 2010/2011. The deficit is projected to grow to $6 million in 2011/2012. The organization’s working capital deficit is estimated at approximately $11.2 million.

The Board has asked the North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN for an additional $6 million in base funding.

The LHIN has indicated that it does not have the power to increase funding by $6 million, but that the request for the money is before the Ministry of Health: “We are hopeful that we will receive a positive response, keeping in mind, however, that these are difficult economic times and a number of hospitals in the province are facing similar hardships,” said LHIN CEO Ruben Rosen.

The LHIN reports that this is the last hospital in the province to sign an accountability agreement.

This may make the Ministry more open to the proposal, as it may reduce the possibility that other hospitals will demand comparable funding increases this year.

Ivan Langrish, a ministry spokesperson says “The ministry is currently doing their due diligence review of Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare’s funding proposal.”

Meanwhile, Liberal MPP Rick Bartolucci has announced $3.9 million in “post construction operating plan” (PCOP) funding for Sudbury Regional Hospital. This follows up on his announcement of $10.7 million in PCOP funding for Sudbury Regional in mid-March. Both increases are supposed to be rolled into the hospital budget in subsequent years. 

Unless Bartolucci is trying to re-announce funding (and judging by the very pleased reactions of local hospital leaders, he is not), the two announcements should mean an ongoing funding increase of (very) roughly 5%.  Sudbury Regional also got the 'regular' 1.5% hospital funding increase earlier this year as well.

The $3.9 million will provide a number of new services for Sudbury:

* * $1.2 million to increase the number of psychiatric intensive care beds from four to 12, which translates to an additional 1,328 patient days;

* * $192,300 for inpatient rehabilitation to increase patient volumes by 500 annually;

* * $760,800 for an additional 750 day surgeries annually;

* * $170,900 to allow an additional 750 visits to the emergency department each year; * $729,000 for housekeeping and plant operations, maintenance, administration and security;

* * $928,600 for equipment amortization.

Still unresolved is the funding for the 100 beds at the old Memorial site for convalescing patients. The funding for those beds is currently set to run out April 1. Sudbury Regional is suffering from very high bed occupancy already, with patients already stowed in bathrooms, TV rooms, and the like.


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