HHHS receives fraction of requested grants
By Jenn Watt
Published Jan. 29, 2019
The following are brief reports of items discussed at the Jan. 24 meeting of Haliburton Highlands Health Services board.
HHHS continues to work to reduce its deficit, finance committee chair David Gray told the board. Statements to the end of November show a $78,000 loss, which is “a $56,000 improvement over the $134,000 loss that was there at the end of September,” he said.
The board previously committed to coming to a balanced position by the end of the fiscal year.
Gray said it was difficult to plan because of changes likely to be made to the Local Health Integration Networks, the regulatory bodies set up by the previous Liberal provincial government. Recent media reports have indicated the province intends to do away with the LHINs, replacing them with a so-called “super agency.”
Gray said the HHHS finance committee didn’t know “what the rules of the game are, whether we will have LHINs or even what our funding is or will be.”
Regardless of what happens to the LHINs, Gray said there was other financial uncertainty. Very little of the requested funding from the Health Infrastructure Renewal Fund Exceptional Circumstances Program was granted.
“In late November we received notification that only $33,000 of our submitted projects of $393,000 were approved, in other words, approximately eight per cent. We have a very major project that’s going to require taking place in this particular fiscal year, the well remediation project here in Haliburton,” he said.
The well remediation was mandated by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, so it must proceed whether external sources of funding are available or not.
HHHS offers condolences following Dr. Al-Beer’s death
CEO Carolyn Plummer gave her condolences to friends and family of orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Ali Al-Beer, who died in a car accident on Wednesday, Jan. 23. Dr. Al-Beer worked at Ross Memorial Hospital and treated many patients from HHHS. He was 49.
“The community down at the Ross is reeling and their extended community including our community here in Haliburton is reeling. He was a well known physician in the region and many people from this community have been referred to him. I know our physician group has worked very closely with him and so certainly it’s going to be a loss to the medical community and a loss to the health system in our region in particular,” she said.
Dr. Kristy Gammon, HHHS chief of staff, answered questions about what would happen to his patients. She said he was one of two orthopaedic surgeons at RMH, but didn’t know how the hospital would be dealing with those patients.
For HHHS, referrals will be redirected to other doctors.
Dr. Gammon said she had spoken to Dr. Al-Beer many times and echoed Plummer’s condolences on behalf of the medical advisory committee.
“I had the pleasure of talking to him on many occasions. My patients loved him. He was a respected, excellent clinician and [his death] is a real loss to the medical community,” she said.
Doctor shortage continues
Dr. Gammon told the board that an already stressed Haliburton emergency department would be going with less in coming months.
She said by the end of March there would be 2.5 full-time equivalent physicians and by the end of May, two full-time equivalents. Normally, the emergency department in Haliburton would need five to six.
“Reliance on Health Force Ontario emergency department locum program is not an ideal long-term, but necessary ongoing short-term solution to our staffing here in Haliburton. Recruitment efforts haven’t been successful to date, but we continue to work with our regional partners, the county and Health Force Ontario on this crucial issue,” she said.
Dr. Gammon had heard the county would be working toward hiring a physician recruiter and thanked them for their support.
Staff leadership changes
Many changes within the organization were acknowledged at the meeting including Dr. Greg Karaguesian’s retirement from emergency medicine. He is the physician lead at the Haliburton emergency department.
Dave Jarvis, director of community mental health services, will be retiring in February. He has worked for 17 years with the mental health team, Plummer said. An open house at HHHS Mental Health Services in Minden is being held Thursday, Jan. 31 from 1 to 4 p.m.
Kris Baird, director of human resources, has left for another hospital and completed her time at HHHS on Jan. 3.
Dr. Kristy Gammon announced that she would soon be taking a sabbatical and the board thanked her for her leadership as chief of staff. While she is away, Dr. Keith Hay will be the interim chief of staff.
Maureen Charlebois was welcomed as the new integrated chief information officer, to work for both HHHS and Ross Memorial Hospital. Bruce Pye, who had been the shared regional CIO will continue working for the hospital in an advisory capacity along with working for other hospitals in the region.
Plummer also welcomed Dr. Diane Duff as the new VP clinical services and chief nurse executive.