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SBGHC surplus short-lived

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The South Bruce Grey Health Centre has gone from red ink to black, but not for long.

A projected $150,000 deficit for the fiscal year that ended March 31 never materialized. Instead, the four-hospital corporation ended up with a $96,000 surplus, thanks to some cost-cutting measures and one-time cost recoveries from the hospitals' PACS (picture archiving and communications system).

“We’re very delighted with that,” CEO and president Paul Rosebush said at last week's board meeting. “Our staff worked very hard to bring our costs down in the last year. Their hard work plus this unanticipated turnaround from these recoveries helped us end up in the position we did.”

Earlier this year, SBGHC cut two senior administration positions after it became clear its financial targets were not going to be met. Those cuts are expected to save $200,000 a year.

But the financial picture continues to be bleak, with a $700,000 deficit projected for this year.

“We’re trying to trim costs on a daily basis, and we're meeting with all our departments on a daily basis, and we're having some success,” Rosebush said. “But again, we're not going to be entirely successful until the Ministry of Health changes the funding formula to recognize SBGHC as four small hospitals.”

A new funding formula -- the health-based allocation model (HBAM) took effect last year. Based on the volume of certain services and population demographics, it does away with the old global funding formula, where hospitals were given a set amount with an annual raise to keep up with inflation. The new system rewards hospitals depending on the volume of some of its procedures and surgeries, with more procedures being added each year.

Lone, small hospitals, such as Hanover, are exempt from the new funding model. Rosebush has maintained that it's not fair to SBGHC, which is essentially four small hospitals -- Durham, Walkerton, Chesley and Kincardine.

“We’re facing unique circumstances, and based on our circumstances and our case, we should have the funding re-evaluated positively for us,” Rosebush said. He's taken the corporation's plight to the ministry and is hopeful of some relief.

“The reason I'm an eternal optimist is we've got the right case,” he said. “We’re not asking for something that's not deserved. We're unique. We're four small hospitals. We've got four roofs and four boiler systems, we've got four sets of infrastructure. We're not one organization. We are unique and we deserve to be treated uniquely.”

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