Flu season puts hospitals at capacity

The following are brief reports of items discussed during a Nov. 30 meeting of the Haliburton Highlands Health Services board.

By Chad Ingram

Published Dec. 5 2017

The province is providing money to hospitals to help them deal with overcrowding during the flu season.

“There is some funding that has been announced . . . to increase hospital capacity in recognition of the flu season the surge that goes along with it” said HHHS president and CEO Carolyn Plummer. “Lots of the hospitals across the province and in particular in the Central East LHIN are experiencing increased capacity to the point where they’ve got patients admitted to their emergency departments.”

Plummer said that HHHS is one of those hospitals however it doesn’t have the room or staffing ability for additional beds.

“We aren’t adding any beds here in Haliburton because we haven’t got the physical space in which to add them nor do we have the ability to bring in staff in the required timeframe” she said.

The funding is available until March. However Plummer pointed out that hospitals in Peterborough and Lindsay will be taking advantage of the funding and will therefore have some additional capacity.

Bill 148 the province’s Fair Workplaces Better Jobs Act will have some financial ramifications for HHHS although the breadth of those ramifications is unclear at this time.

Most widely known for increasing Ontario’s minimum wage the bill mandates numerous changes for workplaces including equal pay for part-time workers who perform the same duties as full-time counterparts.

“There are some elements of the legislation that will have an impact on HHHS” Plummer told board members. “We don’t yet know exactly what the full impact will be we’re still working that out with the Ontario Hospital Association and our lawyers.”

Plummer said there should be more information available on the implications of the bill in coming weeks.

A paramedicine program that began in Haliburton County about a month ago is quickly gaining clients.

Paramedicine programs see paramedics making home visits to vulnerable patients making sure they are taking their medication properly doing falls prevention work etc.

Since it launched 53 clients have signed up to use the new program.

“We’ve been getting some very positive feedback about how the program really is preventing people from having to visit the emergency department and really helping to make sure that they get the support they need in their homes” Plummer said.

It looks like HHHS is heading for a small surplus for the year.

Up until the end of September treasurer and finance committee chairman David Gray told board members HHHS had a surplus of approximately $56000.

“One of the main reasons is that there were unfilled positions in the organization which now have been filled which is part of the reason the surplus is there” Gray told board members.

For the 2016/17 fiscal year the organization achieved a small surplus of approximately $17000 on a budget of approximately $24.8 million.