Bluewater Health continues to provide more services without knowing now much provincial funding it will getSarnia — By JD Booth on October 25, 2012 at 5:38 pm
And CEO Sue Denomy says that is a big concern, especially since the province might want at least some of the money Bluewater Health has received to be paid back.
Even though the province has talked about additional funding of roughly $4.6 million a year for the additional growth Bluewater Health expects to have from the new facility (from patients who are currently going out of town for service), the province could decide to scale back that number, perhaps $1 million or so.
"That's something that's highly probable," said Denomy.
Currently, Bluewater Health is operating with a $1 million operating deficit as of the end of August.
While still a concern, Denomy said the organization continues to work hard to keep that number lower than it might be otherwise considering the additional growth (about 1,000 more cases) that Bluewater Health has already handled.
Even so, concerns over what the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care will ultimately provide aren't the only areas of future concern, said Denomy.
Two specific recommendations from the Drummond Report—Health-Based Allocation Methodology and Quality Based Procedures—will mean some $5 million in reduced budgets, Bluewater Health directors were told at their monthly meeting on Wednesday (Oct. 24).
One of the Ministry focuses is on so-called "weighted cases," procedures which essentially define the amount of resources a hospital should use in providing various services.
A normal delivery of a baby with no complications, for example, would be about 60% of a weighted case. If the mother needs to use operating resources (for a C-section as an example) or has a longer tay, that weighted number might rise to over 100%.
The bottom line? "We need to get our cost for weighted cases down," said Denomy. "The Ministry tracks the information and they compare our costs per weighted case with others. Bluewater Health is still inefficient from that perspective."
Under the Quality Based Procedures category, three stand out as being significant for Bluewater Health—hip replacements, knee replacements and cataracts.
That's where things get complicated and somewhat uncertain.
"We have an idea of what the number will be, but we don't know for sure," said Denomy, although she added that the organization has been able to reduce the cost of doing cataracts, from somewhere in the area of $750 for each cataract to under $500, although the fact that Bluewater Health isn't a "costing" hospital means it's difficult if not impossible to calculate exact figures.
Still, "we know we're more efficient," said Denomy.
For hip and knee replacements, one of the provincial costing numbers is higher than what Bluewater Health is experiencing, another is lower.