The HHHS board discussed new funding a patient experience mapping exercise and this year’s flu shot among other things during their Oct. 31 meeting in Minden. /SUE TIFFIN Staff

HHHS grateful for provincial funding infusion

Haliburton Highlands Health Services to receive $99000 in one-time funding

By Sue Tiffin

On Oct. 17 the Ministry of Health announced $68 million in funding for small- and medium-sized hospitals across the province. Haliburton Highlands Health Services received one-time funding of $99000 which CEO Carolyn Plummer said in her October report would “help support the continued operation of our hospital services for this fiscal year.”

“Very happy about that” she said at the board meeting held Oct. 31. “That’s certainly going to help us with some of the financial challenges that we’re facing this year and so we’re so grateful to receive that.”

According to the MOH’s announcement “the investment will: help ensure that Ontarians continue to have access to high-quality care; help put an end to hallway health care; address sector challenges and previous funding model inequities; promote the sustainability of hospital operations; and protect existing core services in communities across the province.”

In her report Plummer said “We are grateful for the investment being made by the provincial government and for the recognition of the pivotal role that small hospitals such as HHHS play in fostering healthy communities. This funding will help HHHS ensure our community continues to have access to the critical health services needed to help it thrive.”

The MOH press release notes the province will invest $27 billion over the next 10 years in hospital infrastructure projects across Ontario including adding 3000 new hospital beds.

Patient experience mapping which helps HHHS better understand where services are working or what needs improvement from a patient’s perspective has begun with those with a chronic disease or related condition who have accessed one of the county’s emergency departments in the last few months.

The work is being led in partnership with the community advisory committee.

“The first part of that mapping process was for us as an organization to put down on paper all of the steps that we know have to happen when someone comes through our doors” said Plummer. “The next step is to take that and have a group of patients who have gone through that experience come and tell us what it’s like for them at all of those specific points in time and that will help us identify gaps and areas where we can make some improvements.”

Plummer said the mapping was an “interesting experience.”

“Just as an example [in undergoing the exercise] one of the first things we found is that I think it took us a good half hour to actually get through the door by the time we talked about where our signs are how people find us especially at [the Minden] location where it depends on what road you come in on how do you know where emerg is so it took us a good deal of time even to get to that point.”

Plummer said the intent was to look at other services offered through the HHHS organization as well.

“[It was] certainly an eye opening exercise to go through about how something that sounds not all that complicated can actually have a lot of complexity associated with it” she said.

Flu season has begun and Plummer reminded in her report to “[p]rotect yourself protect your loved ones and protect patients residents and clients by getting your flu shot.”

The annual HHHS flu shot campaign encourages staff and volunteers to receive their flu shots. The Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit has issued a flu shot challenge to health service organizations with an award going to the organization with the highest vaccination rate. Last year the Minden emergency department won the award for highest percentage increase in vaccination rate.

“Getting your flu shot and proper hand washing are the two best ways to prevent yourself from getting the flu and also spreading it to others” said Plummer.

Jeff Gollob board chair asked if Plummer had received feedback yet on the efficacy of this year’s vaccine.

“I haven’t received any formal feedback” she said. “Actually usually by now we’ve heard something and I haven’t yet.”

Dr. Diane Duff VP clinical services said this year’s vaccine had been altered after its initial release.

“They did tweak it because in Australia and Asia the results were not good” she said. “Part of the reason it’s coming out a little bit late is that they have done some last minute adjustments to it based on the experience out of Australia. We won’t know now until we get in flu season and we’ll see whether or not we’ve done a good job with it.”

“Of course there’s always a degree of effectiveness even though it may not be as high as we’d like” said Dr. Keith Hay interim chief of staff noting that the vaccine this year is a quadrivalent vaccine offering one more antigen than a trivalent vaccine.

“We’re calling it the super shot” said Plummer.