It was music to everyone’s ears.
MPP Norm Miller held a press conference on March 25 in the boardroom of the Huntsville District Memorial Hospital to announce that Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC), which manages both the Bracebridge and Huntsville hospitals, would be receiving just over $2 million to make up for the loss of revenue during the pandemic.
The funding is part of about $573 million the Province is providing hospitals across Ontario “so they can recover from the financial pressures of the pandemic and focus on delivering the services that save and improve lives on a daily basis,” said Miller. “Over the course of the pandemic, our government has provided hospitals with over 1.2 billion dollars to help them recover from financial pressures created and worsened through COVID-19.”
Miller said from the beginning of the pandemic, the province has committed to supporting its medium-sized hospitals across Ontario, and in “September of 2021, we made a 7.1 million dollar investment in Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare to help provide financial stability.” Miller said his government has also helped address the historic underfunding of medium-sized hospitals “by increasing the base funding across the hospital sector, meaning medium-sized hospitals no longer have to request additional funds each year to keep operations running. We are so lucky to have excellent Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare hospital facilities in Huntsville and in Bracebridge working to keep us safe and healthy.”
Miller noted that hospitals have been hit hard as a result of the pandemic and thanked interim CAO Vickie Kaminski and Natalie Bubela who retired as MAHC’s CEO in December after being with the organization for ten years.
“With these steady hands at the helm, Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare weathered the storm of the pandemic with great success,” said Miller who thanked them both (although Bubela was not at the announcement) for their dedication to serving the healthcare needs of the community.
Miller also thanked Cameron Renwick, chair of the board of MAHC, for his years of dedication.
Kaminski said the funding is very much appreciated. She said it will help the hospital recoup some of the lost revenue caused by the pandemic. “For example, there was a long period of time where all the parking gates were raised and that was to ease the impact of COVID-19 and the pandemic issues for all the people in the community,” she said, noting that it cost MAHC nearly half a million dollars in lost parking revenue. She also said the organization lost an estimated $400,000 it had budgeted for annually when out-of-province hospital payments ceased for non-residents of Ontario. She also said in order to help contain the spread of COVID many patients were placed in private rooms for which the hospital did not receive co-payments.
“So these funds help support MAHC’s continued financial health so that we can focus on our mission to provide outstanding, integrated health care to those we serve across our community,” she added. “Health care workers appreciate the public support over the last two years, and they still need that support today and tomorrow. The pandemic is not over for those who provide care. Our staff and physicians continue to look after those in need as they try to hold strong, but they’re getting tired. Now more than ever in recovery and rejuvenation, we encourage you to continue to protect yourselves and your loved ones, even as restrictions are being lifted, and we ask for your kindness and that you be respectful of each other and our healthcare workers as we move forward together safely.”
On behalf of the board, Renwick also thanked Miller and members of his cabinet for the funding. “When our board of directors does not have to focus as much on how are we going to recoup losses financially and spend more time really focusing on delivering high quality, effective, safe health care for now and for the future for people that are residents and visitors, it makes our job much easier,” said Renwick who seemed particularly pleased for the ‘funding correction’ for medium-sized hospitals – something many in the community have been lobbying for.
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