HHHS board clarifies spending decisions

By Angelica Ingram

Following some public concern over the $2.1 million cost of a centralized electronic records system reported in the Nov. 3 issue of The Echo board member Jeffrey Gollob addressed the letters to the editor which mentioned the conditions of area long-term care facilities.

“They focused on resident care and staffing issues against the back-drop of the decision taken last month with respect to the clinical information system” he said. “The clinical information system falls into the need-to-have category not the nice-to-have.”

Gollob told the board he believed they needed to do a better job of explaining the difference between funding for capital projects and funding for operating costs and deficits.

Funding for the CIS initiative is a capital expense whereas staffing is operational and is paid for differently.

Haliburton’s portion of the CIS bill will be fundraised by the Foundation.

“I think it’s very difficult for residents and patients and their families to understand” he said. “But the bottom line is this was not an either or type of decision. Turning down the CIS initiative would not mean that funding would somehow magically be available to hire additional staff.”

Board member Dave Bonham agreed adding the board didn’t stress enough the importance of patient safety and the impact the CIS initiative will have on that.

“There’s a huge positive impact on patient safety and we need to get that idea out in front of the public” said Bonham.

Gollob went on to say in his experience publicly funded long-term care facilities across the province struggle with costs.

“It’s unfortunate but that’s not an issue that’s unique to our county” he said.

Staff sick leave and overtime is costing the HHHS each year and board member Dale Robinson believes this needs to be addressed.

During his report to the board on behalf of the finance committee Robinson said sick and overtime leave is costing the health corporation a deficit each year in the neighbourhood of $200000.
Robinson told board members the amount is not something that can be fundraised but has to be accounted for in the budget.

“We’re not going to get a grant … can’t use donated funds for that” said Robinson. “It would mean cutting our current budget by $200000 … it would mean either a change in staffing or service to accommodate that or a combination.”

Robinson said there is lots of room for improvement in this area

“We have to keep asking the question … should we be doing something to realistically address what sick time and overtime is costing us?” said Robinson.

The Central East LHIN has announced a total of $6886975 for community investments including funding for the Adult Day Program and Palliative Care Community Team.

Of the funding $50000 will go towards expanding the adult day program at HHHS to serve an additional 10 people said Eskedjian.

The palliative care team was approved for $133000 for the HHHS program which included an enhancement of $13000 from a previous one-time allocation according to the CEO’s report.

Telehomecare which refers to a system that provides in-home monitoring through technology was also given funding to the tune of $250000.

The funding was approved for the Central East CCAC “to support Telehomecare program development and one-time equipment costs for HHHS to serve Haliburton County and for Port Hope Community Health Centre to serve Northumberland County” said Eskedjian.

HHHS CEO Varouj Eskedjian told the board that the Ministry of Health is looking at the possibility of merging Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) with Community Care Access Centres (CCAC) and “integrating primary care services under strengthened LHINs.”

This information came from a Nov. 4 address by minister of health Eric Hoskins however no new information has been released.

The Haliburton Highlands Health Services Foundation’s Christmas campaign is off to a good start with more that $48000 raised to date.
The campaign has already extended beyond the halfway point of the target which is $93000.