Lisa Gervais: Has bleeding stopped at HHHS?
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | June 1, 2017|
The Haliburton Highlands Health Services (HHHS) has had a few challenging years but appears to be getting back on track.
We all know the turmoil the HHHS went through with some key staff positions. The revolving door and its subsequent effect on staff cost the services in money and morale. No small wonder that sick leave and overtime spending went through the roof. Indeed, it cost the services a whopping $385,000.
To think that a year ago, that thrust the services into the red. At that hospital board annual general meeting, even veteran politician Laurie Scott was left wondering if the province even allows such a deficit.
Fast forward a year and there’s been a remarkable change.
Carolyn Plummer is now firmly ensconced as hospital CAO and other key positions have also now been filled and appear to have stabilized.
Costs for things such as sick leave and overtime are getting under control.
The corporation went from a deficit of $420,000 in 2015-16 to a small surplus of $17,000 at the end of this March and the auditors are prepared to give “a clean bill of health” at the upcoming AGM, according to the services’ board treasurer and finance committee chair.
We’re also happy to hear that the walk-in clinic is re-opening at the Haliburton Family Medical Centre on Gelert Road this summer. It will certainly take pressure off of the ER in Haliburton. Once again, it’s for rostered patients and anyone else with non-emergency medical needs. We don’t know the days and hours yet.
Of course, wouldn’t it be wonderful if the service could be offered year-round? It really only returns seasonally due to the influx of cottagers. This again comes down to staffing and it’s clear that recruitment and retention of doctors continues to be one of the HHHS’s biggest challenges.
However, the service can be applauded for working with the Haliburton Highlands Health Services Foundation (HHHSF) on surpassing another major milestone for our community – last week’s opening of the new Palliative Centre.
It continues to astound us how this community opens its wallets for the HHHSF. To think that this tiny county has been able to raise $1.2 million to build a place where people can peacefully face end-of-life is a worthy accomplishment.
And that brings us to the HHHSF. There was a party for Dale Walker yesterday. As everybody knows, Dale has been at the helm of the foundation for 18 years. In that time, she and her various boards have raised more than $13 million. They’ve built two hospitals and a palliative centre and brought an enormous amount of equipment to both sites. Dale’s contribution to all of this has been immense.
The HHHSF has shown good stewardship and succession planning in taking Lisa Tompkins, the former director of sales, marketing and communications for the CN Tower, under its wing. As of today, Tompkins is the HHHSF’s new executive-director.
Is Haliburton Highlands without health challenges? Certainly not. We have an aging population that is turning to health care services in droves. We have a shortage of doctors. We drive long distances to see specialists. We need a permanent walk-in clinic. We desperately need long-term care beds. The list goes on and on.
But, we are hopeful that a more stable HHHS and a continuing strong HHHSF is up to the challenge.
Lisa Gervais is the editor for The Highlander.