Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Rouge begins year of living within our means

By Dr. Naresh Mohan,
Chief of Staff
Rouge Valley Health System

We have started our year of change and renewed accountability at Rouge Valley Health System. Rouge is currently preparing plans to focus our two hospital campuses on Core Services, as aligned with recommendations in the Peer Review Report, which was received and accepted by the Central East Local Health Integration Network (CE LHIN) on Dec. 14, 2007.

RVHS recently held meetings with physicians, staff and volunteers to share information related to the start of this planning. In short, the hospital can no longer spend more than it receives in provincial government funding.

The CE LHIN is providing some support for RVHS, but not enough to eliminate our financial shortfalls. Not by a long shot. We will be receiving one-time funding of $5 million in 2007/08 and $3 million in 2008/09.

The message from the CE LHIN is that Rouge must solve its own problems by being fiscally accountable--living within our means. What we must do as a hospital system is eliminate our massive debt. We have a $40 million working capital deficit and another $38 million in long term debt, making us the equivalent of a family that is mortgage poor.

This constant financial issue could have quality of care implications if we do not address it. That is why 2008 will be a year of focused renewal at Rouge. We will focus on being the best at what we do.

Years of overspending and a previous lack of accountability got us here. Active accountability will get us out.

Core Services
How we deliver services at both hospital campuses will change. At the same time, we will maintain core services at both sites. This includes Labour and Delivery and 24/7/365 Emergency Departments at each campus supported by:
  • 24-hour anaesthetic coverage;
  • High dependency units (such as ICU);
  • General surgery capacity, including day surgery;
  • Community-level obstetrical and paediatric services;
  • General medical and geriatric services;
  • Some rehabilitation and mental health services;
  • Centres for diagnostics, treatment and ambulatory care.

Central East LHIN staff and board members will now support Rouge Valley's leadership as it designs a plan to address the findings of the Peer Review Report. Our plans on how to implement the Report will be submitted to the CE LHIN Board of Directors in February for its approval.

One of the important themes of our changes will be that RVHS will operate as one hospital system. All resources are corporate, meaning that they will be allocated at the discretion of leadership to maximize quality and efficiency. The "me too" attitude of our campuses, as highlighted by the Peer Reviewers, will end. We will need to deliver the best services we can in the most efficient manner, which may mean consolidated at a single site to improve quality and efficiency. Living within our means will mean much more than being fiscally balanced. It will mean that we will pool our human resources (staff and physicians) and equipment to provide gold-standard care for a given healthcare service in one place -- rather than spreading our resources more thinly across two locations.

Our hospital campuses are 20 minutes apart and therefore accessible to our communities of Whitby, Ajax, Pickering and east Toronto.

Central to our drive to be the best at what we do, Rouge Valley's renewal has begun with these themes:

  • We are and will continue to be highly skilled and dedicated;

  • We must truly become one hospital system;

  • We will no longer try to be all things to all people in healthcare. This past approach is a quality issue and a financial issue;

  • We will focus on Core Services, consistent with the CE LHIN, whom we will continue to work with in partnership;

  • We are committed to improve our processes for family physicians and their patients in their interactions with the hospital;

  • We will continue to communicate with you.

For more information on the Peer Review Report, please visit our public RVHS website page.

Attachment: Town Halls: Jan. 23-24, 2008 (96K PDF)