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Prince Edward County closer to redeveloped hospital but questions remain

By Tyler Renaud [1]

BELLEVILLE –  The project to redevelop the hospital in Prince Edward County has finally cleared its first hurdle. But there are still hurdles to clear.

In mid-December the South East Local Health Integration Network approved Quinte Health Care’s submission to rebuild Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital.

“[The approval] officially puts [the hospital]  onto the radar of the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care as a hospital that needs redevelopment,” said Paul Huras, CEO of the South East LHIN in a news release.

The release goes on to say that next step for the project partners is to finalize a business case. This will outline why the redevelopment of the hospital is needed, as well as projecting population and health trends 30 years from now. Furthermore, the business case will present estimates of costs and required space. The business case can be submitted to the ministry in the spring.

“We feel strongly that a new hospital would provide important benefits to the people of Prince Edward County, including easier access to a wide-range  of primary  care services  close to home; greater efficiency for the health care system; improved patient satisfaction; and even better recruitment and retention of all health care professionals,” said QHC Vice President Katherine Stansfield, in a press release.

Now QHC needs to figure out how it will fund the resources needed to run a redeveloped hospital.

“By the end of the 15/16 fiscal year, that starts April 1st, we could have a $12 million problem – if we don’t make changes [to our operation budget],” said QHC representative Susan Rowe in an interview.

QHC looked to the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care [2] for support by applying for the “Small and Rural Hospital funding” but was denied.

“The ministry made that decision on two things; the first being the size of the hospital based on how many patients are seen – [the county hospital] is indeed a small hospital according to their definition. The second criteria is that it needs to be longer than a thirty minute drive from that municipality to a larger hospital,” said Rowe “Instead of basing the distance from hospital to hospital the measurement is based on the geographic centre of Prince Edward County which is less than thirty minutes [to another hospital].”

QHC, with the support of Local Health Integration Network, have since appealed the decision to the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.

“Our funding from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care has been reduced every year for the last couple of years. In addition to that our inflation continues to increase,” said Rowe. “The ministry is trying to move funds from hospitals to the community sector. Hospitals are very expensive and we have people being cared for in hospitals who would actually be better cared for in their own homes with the right support or through other providers in the community.”

All this means that there is money to redevelopment the hospital in the county, but there may not be money to run it.

But the redevelopment of the hospital will not be derailed by QHC’s financial uncertainty.

“Money to build a new hospital is through a capital fund and it is completely separate from the money we receive to deliver care everyday,” said Rowe.