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Wellington North Health Care: $66,000 surplus

by Kris Svela

KENILWORTH - Wellington North councillors received a report on the operations at North Wellington Health Care (NWHC) at their meeting on Monday.

It was delivered by board chairman Al Hodgson, who outlined plans for the future as well as work done since Mount  Forest?s Louise Marshall Hospital was amalgamated with Palmerston District Hospital in 2001. He was joined by hospital chief executive officer Jerome Quenneville.

Hodgson said NWHC has been working with Groves Memorial Hospital in Fergus, where  Quenneville also serves as CEO, and medical expertise is shared with the physicians from there.

NWHC operates the Mount Forest and Palmerston hospitals with an 18-member board of directors. Combined, the hospitals have about 204  employees split almost evenly between the two facilities.  Those hospitals have about 14 doctors total, who work in two separate family health teams. Each hospital is supported by a foundation that raises money and two volunteer auxiliaries that assist with fundraisers, run gift shops and help at clinics.

?With the two auxiliaries there?s approximately 100 volunteers at each location,? Hodgson said. He said amalgamation of the two hospitals and a working relationship with Groves meant savings.

The three are the only rural part of the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network, which oversees funding for the smaller hospitals and ones in Kitchener and Waterloo that are part of the network. In all, 78 organizations receive funding from the WWLHIN.

?We have to capitalize on those efficiencies,? Hodgson said of savings between the NWHC and Groves. ?We have a stronger voice for rural health care.?

He said the board operated with a $19.6-million budget in 2010-11. Of that, $14.9 million was for salaries and medical  staff payments. The board had expenses, including $5.6 million for medical and surgical supplies, drugs and medical gasses. It ended its fiscal  year with a $66,000 surplus.

?To say we?re financially responsible would be an understatement,? Hodgson said. ?We manage it very strictly to make sure we hit our budget.?

The hospitals had about 20,000 emergency room visits in the past year and over 15,000 clinic visits for residents using special services such as diabetes management.

?With over 20,000 visits to our emergency departments, if there is no other reason to have our hospitals open that?s the one,? Hodgson said.

Quenneville said an expansion of the emergency room at Louise Marshall Hospital is in the planning stage, with ministry approval in place.

The expansion, which will see the emergency room go from 1,400 to 7,700 square feet, is expected to be completed within two years.

Hodgson said hospital officials are expecting some tougher economic times as the provincial government considers cutting back on spending.

?Money is going to become a real issue and making sure we are efficient,? he added.

Councillor Dan Yake, who sits on the hospital committee, thanked the two for their presentation.

Mayor Ray Tout said the presentation featured some points not well known in the community, such as both hospitals having helicopter pads for quick emergency responses.

?I think we are so lucky in small town Ontario to have our two hospitals,? Tout said.

 

January 13, 2012

 
 

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