‘Significant’ deficit expected

Haliburton Highlands Health Services (HHHS) board chair of finance, Irene Odell, told the Jan. 26 meeting “we will definitely end the year (2022) with a significant deficit.”

She added, “It’s been a tough one. The board is aware and supporting our hospital leadership as they go through this very difficult time.

“The leadership and the staff continue to define and carry out both short and long-term mitigation strategies, but given provincial, and Canadian-wide shortages of professional staff, and the impact of COVID,” a deficit was unavoidable, she said.

In her CEO report, Carolyn Plummer added staffing pressures mean they are still using agency nurses resulting in added costs, both at the hospitals and LTC facilities.

“HHHS has reviewed alternate care models to reduce this cost pressure in the next few months,” she added.

Plummer said HHHS is experiencing cash flow challenges as it waits for funds to flow from the Ministry of Health. “HHHS is aware funds will continue to flow in January, which will provide needed cash to meet our current obligations. HHHS will continue to access its line of credit, scrutinize its payment terms to maximize its cash flow position, and communicate its ongoing deficit position and operating pressures to Ontario Health East.”

Foundation supports CT scan machine

HHHS Foundation executive-director Melanie Klodt Wong said the foundation was committed to raising funds for a CT scanner for the Highlands.

“We know how much the community wants this and needs this,” Klodt Wong added.

She said it would take the entire community to rise to the challenge but, “we can do this and we can do this together.”

As previously reported in The Highlander, HHHS has begun to explore whether a CT scan machine can be brought to the County. It’s doing a feasibility study to determine if it is possible to proceed now, rather than wait for the master planning process to be completed. If the study demonstrates that a CT scan machine is feasible for HHHS, a full application to the Ministry of Health will be required.

Staff changes in LTC

There have been some staffing changes at the two LTC homes, with Tina Amodeo accepting the permanent assistant director of care position for Highland Wood. Recruitment continues for a director of care/ administrator for the home. At Hyland Crest, Tracy Salvatori has accepted the assistant director of care position.

Additionally, HHHS thanked Dr. Tina Stephenson “for her incredible work” at Highland Wood over the past 22 years. Dr. Stephenson will be retiring as the medical director of the home in April. Dr. Michael Armstrong will be taking over as the interim medical director while a permanent replacement is recruited. Dr. Armstrong has been working with HHHS for more than 20 years and is also the medical director for Hyland Crest.