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HSN posts balanced budget for 2013-2014

The hospital's two biggest priorities for the next fiscal year, he said, are to improve pediatric care and to fill the gaps that leave some patients behind when they go through transitions of care.
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Health Sciences North posted an operational budget surplus of $432,000 in the 2013-2014 fiscal year. Hospital president and CEO Dr. Denis Roy said pediatrics and better transitions of care will be the top priorities for the hospital in the next year. File photo.
The hospital's two biggest priorities for the next fiscal year, he said, are to improve pediatric care and to fill the gaps that leave some patients behind when they go through transitions of care.

Meeting that goal means better communication with ambulatory care services and adopting a “hospital-without-walls” approach.

“An excellent example of this 'hospital-without-walls' approach can be found at the crisis intervention service within our Mental Health and Addictions program,” Roy said in his report at the annual general meeting.

“Crisis intervention is now using videoconferencing to provide immediate crisis assessments and counselling to clients outside Greater Sudbury,” he added.

Health Sciences North's revenues increased by $11 million in the 2013-2014 fiscal year to $443 million.

Revenues from the North East Local Health Integration Network were down $9 million compared to the previous fiscal year, to $292 million.

But revenues from Cancer Care Ontario increased by $17 million, to $52 million because the organization assumed full responsibility for dialysis funding – around $12 million – from the Local Health Integration Network.

Cancer Care Ontario also provided the hospital with $2.8 million in new dialysis funding, and an additional $1.6 million to cover the high cost of cancer drugs.

On an overall basis, Health Sciences North ended the fiscal year with a surplus of $19.7 million thanks to a one-time relief fund from the province of $19.3 million.

In early May, former Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci announced the hospital would receive $57.9 million – over a three-year period – to help pay off its deficit.

To receive the remaining $38.6 million over the next two years, Health Sciences North must post balanced budgets.

André Picard, the Globe and Mail's health care reporter, gave a keynote address at Health Sciences North's annual general meeting that both critiqued health care in Canada and complimented Health Sciences North for making positive changes.

“I really like the focus on patient-centred care,” Picard said.

But he added the biggest problem with health care in Canada is that good ideas are often slow to be brought to scale.

“I think it's great that Health Sciences North is doing this hospital-without-walls concept, but it's existed for 15 years in New Brunswick,” Picard said. “Why is it only happening here and not all over Ontario?”

Picard said many European countries are more flexible to make positive changes to their health-care systems because their bureaucracies have more decision-making power.

In Canada, he said, big health care decisions are left to politicians, who are often adverse to change for political reasons.

Jonathan Migneault

About the Author: Jonathan Migneault

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