Hydro costs eat away at hospital’s budget
|By Mark Arike - Staff Writer | March 30, 2017
In just one month, a $62,000 surplus at Haliburton Highlands Health Services (HHHS) has been reduced to a mere $2,600.
And it’s the rising cost of hydro that has had a major impact on the bottom line, according to HHHS CEO Carolyn Plummer. So far, the corporation has spent $180,000 more on hydro than it did at the same time last year. Plummer estimates that $170,000 of this can be attributed to increased rates.
“The major shift we have seen is in our utility costs, primarily our hydro costs,” Plummer told The Highlander. “This is directly linked to an increase in hydro rates, which have been on the rise for the past five years, yet our consumption has only increased by two per cent over the same time period.”
There has been a 42 per cent increase in the past fiscal year alone, she said.
HHHS pays for utilities at four properties including two hospitals and two long-term care facilities.
During a recent board meeting, David Gray, corporation treasurer and financial committee chair, listed utilities and payroll as two financial pressures.
“We’re close to break-even,” said Gray.
“That’s considerably better than the alternative,” added board chair Dave Bonham.
HHHS ended 2015/16 with a deficit of $420,000. Staff sick time and overtime largely contributed to the deficit. But the corporation was able to turn that around to a surplus of $73,000 at the end of last September.
Despite this year’s challenges, Plummer is proud the organization has maintained a balanced position.
“I would like to acknowledge the hard work of all our staff and our board members in helping identify effective strategies to keep us on target without compromising care and service,” she said.
HHHS receives annual funding from the Central East Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) through the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
MARK ARIKE is a reporter for The Highlander.