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Technicality hinders funding for Picton hospital

By Dylan O’Hagan

A technicality means Picton Hospital does not qualify for a rural hospital fund.

And that money means a lot according to Susan Rowe the Senior Director of Communications for Quinte Health Care.

“It improves the patient experience in a lot of different ways. For a small hospital 500,000 dollars can go a long way. There are small and big ways that we can continue to improve the experience for patients and families,” she said.

Prince Edward Memorial Hospital did not receive the funding in 2013 because it is not considered rural by Ministry of Health standards. North Hastings Hospital did qualify however, receiving $500,000 designated to improve the patient experience through one time initiatives.

To be considered a rural hospital, it must meet two criteria. The first is the hospital must be small, having less than 30,000 patient visits a year. Prince Edward Memorial meets this criterion as a small hospital but also must be considered rural. A rural hospital is defined as being 30 minutes or more travel distance by car from a city with a hospital with over 30,000 visits a year according to the Rural and Northern Health Care Framework Plan.

The technicality comes from how the distance was measured between Prince Edward Memorial Hospital and Belleville General Hospital. The Ministry of Health measured the distance from Picton’s hospital to the center of Prince Edward County rather than to Belleville General Hospital. This technicality puts the distance between the two hospitals under the 30 minute mark. However, Rowe said Prince Edward Memorial Hospital should be considered a rural hospital.

“We believe that definition wasn’t really correctly applied because most people in Prince Edward County live in Picton, Wellington, Bloomfield, that area. So we felt it would be more appropriate for the Ministry to use the rural definition as driving from Picton Hospital to Belleville Hospital,” she said.

With the introduction of the new Minister of Health Eric Hoskins this week at Queen’s Park, Rowe is hopeful that the QHC’s case will be heard.

Local MPP Todd Smith agrees with the QHC and believes it has a case for the new health minister.

“There will be a bit of a transitional period for Mr. Hoskins as he gets caught up on the case that’s being made by Quinte Healthcare’s CEO Mary Clare Egberts. She feels she has quite a compelling case that the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital is due some of this transitional funding….It seems as if Quinte Health Care does have a case and they’ll look forward to making that and I will assist them in any way I can,” he said.