Hospital CEO concerned about delayed funding announcements

LITTLE CURRENT—As he got set for retirement as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Manitoulin Health Centre (MHC), Derek Graham was hopeful of funding being confirmed to the hospital by the province through the Small Hospital Innovation Fund—but to no avail.

“We still don’t know if we are going to be approved for the Small Hospital Innovation Fund that had been announced earlier this year by the provincial government, in the amount of $20 million to go toward small hospitals,” Mr. Graham told The Recorder last Thursday. “We haven’t received the funding as of yet and can’t get any clarity on it being provided. The only confirmed funding we have is that the province is providing the two percent (increase) in the base funding for hospitals. The latter funding is being fulfilled, but there are hundreds of thousands of dollars being left out there that we have no idea if we are going to receive, and we have many projects that need to be funded.”

Mr. Graham said, “we are getting signals, after bringing forward our questions, that the funding should be coming.” However, “we are seeing funding cuts to other hospitals; I understand HSN (Health Sciences North) is going to be going through another set of layoffs in the near future in management and front-line staff positions. The muscle is coming off the bone; how do continual cuts not impact services being provided by hospitals?”

“Hospital Sciences North (HSN) is one tertiary hospital for all hospitals in Northeastern Ontario—it provides specialty programs that we all benefit from,” said Mr. Graham. “If the government is not going to provide the necessary funding support, HSN, the 23 hospitals and all the communities they are located in will start to suffer,” said Mr. Graham. “HSN must be supported by the provincial government differently.”

Mr. Graham said, “our hospitals had a very busy summer in patient emergency services—the pressures were significant. Now we are going into the fall and winter, and we will see fluctuations with more patients getting the flu and using emerg. A task force was struck by the government with Reuben Devlin, a retired CEO brought in to head it. I have a lot of respect for him, but time is ticking and small hospitals like ours need answers on policies and funding, and more engagement in the field.”

“Yes, part of my frustration has been in trying my best in getting answers on all these questions before I leave. It is causing angst among all small hospitals,” he said.

While Mr. Graham officially retires on October 1, Lynn Foster has taken over the position of interim CEO for the month of September and will continue in the role of CEO after that time.