Year after year, Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC) has faced a funding shortfall under the Health System Funding Reform provincial funding formula that continually challenges MAHC to balance the organization’s annual budget while maintaining safe, high-quality care and equitable access to hospital services year-round.
“In the past five years, MAHC has balanced the budget by making difficult decisions to reduce hospital beds, and consolidate programs and services to one site only to concentrate volumes,” says Natalie Bubela, Chief Executive Officer. “Ontario hospitals must balance their budgets, yet have not received an increase in base funding for the fourth consecutive year, meanwhile the costs to operate the hospitals continue to increase every year.”
With a budgeted deficit of $2.6 million for the 2015-16 fiscal year and expectations of future projected deficits, an operational assessment was undertaken and focused on two care areas where MAHC’s costs are higher than peer hospitals and the expected costs of operating according to the funding formula. The operational assessment was completed by the Hay Group to provide direction on areas MAHC could further investigate the possibility of achieving efficiencies and cost savings through modifying our operations in Surgical Services and Emergency care.
The Board of Directors has received the Hay Group report as information only and has directed Administrators to work with the staff and physicians in the Emergency and Surgical Services departments to evaluate the feasibility of implementing the recommendations, some of which are significant and propose major service restructuring. The report from the Hay Group is strictly directional, and no decisions have been made.
“The Board feels it may be challenging to achieve the targeted cost savings to the extent that the Hay Group has recommended, while maintaining safe, high-quality care that is accessible to our patients at both sites and minimizes disruption to our communities,” explains Board Chair Charles Forret. “The Board has directed management to work with staff and physicians to determine what recommendations or other cost-saving opportunities are reasonable and feasible at MAHC before any decisions are made to implement changes.”
The Board recognizes the need for a long-term solution to MAHC’s ongoing financial challenges and continues to work with the North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN to advocate for additional funding. Any changes that result will assist in positioning MAHC to achieve operational savings for the 2016-17 fiscal year.