Grey Bruce Health Services will host community engagement sessions this Spring in order to allow residents to share their views and concerns about options under consideration by the GBHS board in an effort to find costs savings in hopes of avoiding anticipated deficits in the coming years.
“Over the past several months, GBHS staff and physicians have worked on a number of potential measures to reduce the organizations’ growing operating deficit. The GBHS Board of Directors met to assess these options last Friday, and has asked for more information on the options. The Board will re-convene at the end of February,” informed the GBHS in a press release issued on Wednesday (Jan. 18). “The Board recognizes the importance of health care to our communities, and has re- confirmed that no decisions will be made on any of the options for reducing the deficit until internal and external stakeholders have been consulted. A schedule of public engagement sessions will be available in early Spring.”
The community engagement sessions will be held in each of the six communities where the GBHS operates a hospital, including in Meaford.
After six years of balanced budgets, GBHS, which operates six hospitals as well as a withdrawal management centre, is facing a $4 million deficit due in part to a change in the provincial funding model for hospitals its size. If no changes are made to how GBHS delivers services, the deficit is expected to grow to approximately $7 million in 2017/18, and could reach $17 million by 2019/20.
“Adopting a longer-term transformational strategy for the organization and allowing time for an intelligent, sustainable redesign is not easy in the fast paced health care sector where short-term results are expected and rewarded,” said Lance Thurston, President and Chief Executive Officer for GBHS. “Corporate tolerance for risk and the unblinking resolve of corporate leadership to stay the course are required as we work through this financial challenge.”
The GBHS says that it continues its advocacy efforts with the South West LHIN and the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care. The Board is optimistic that before the end of March the Ministry of Health will have responded to its request for changes to the funding model for GBHS. The Board will then be in a better position to understand the scope and depth of changes required to address any remaining funding gap.
In recent weeks, residents in Meaford have been circulating a petition in an effort to raise awareness, and to lobby the GBHS board about the potential consolidation of surgical services to Owen Sound, one of the options being considered by the GBHS board. If that option were to be acted upon by the board, local operating rooms like the one in Meaford's hospital could be closed down.
Updates on the funding situation and stakeholder engagement sessions will be posted on the website at gbhs.on.ca.