By Robert Washburn
Northumberland Hills Hospital came out ahead on its annual budget this past year for the second time in a row.
Tom McLean, chair of the hospital board’s finance committee, told an audience at the annual general meeting last Thursday there was a $326,000 operating surplus.
He said several things made a difference. The hospital entered the fiscal year in 2017 with a balanced budget. It had undertaken a number of strategies outlined in its Hospital Improvement Plan, approved in the previous year.
It also got a one-time cash injection of nearly $1 million in 2016-2017.
Starting from the stronger fiscal position made a difference, McLean said in his address. The hospital received a two-point-three million dollar increase in its annual budget from the provincial government.
The increase was quickly eaten up by a rise in patient volume over the year. Once more the province stepped in with a one-time grant of just over $700,000 to alleviate the additional costs.
“Our financial position continues to improve,” he said, pointing to the annual funding increase in the base budget. “I cannot underscore enough the significance of the Ministry (of Health and Long-Term Care) recognition of our structural deficit _ a deficit that has been under discussion with the Ministry for the past four years and could not, despite our best efforts, be solved
through efficiencies alone.”
This means the hospital should be able to meet the community’s needs, he added. “NHH will continue to work cooperatively with its partners at the Central East Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) and the Ministry in an ongoing effort to achieve long-term financial sustainability while also maintain, or enhancing, vital patient care services for the benefit of the
community that we are so proud to serve,” he said.