WDMH bucks provincewide trend of job cuts

by Matthew Uhrig
Press staff

WINCHESTER – Though hospitals in neighbouring centres are trimming staff numbers, Winchester District Memorial (WDMH) is bucking the trend.

According to CEO Cholly Boland, the village medical facility should remain unscathed.

“We’re not there… It’s tight, but we’re good,” he said during a recent meeting with area media outlets.

Boland credits changes made last year for the sound financial position.

Following five months of consultation, the hospital announced in March 2014 that 14 beds were being cut – nine from the medical/surgical unit and five from the complex continuing care ward – and nine staff positions were being eliminated.

No full-time employee lost their job with the changes, while part-time workers had hours reduced. The hospital’s extended care unit was also relocated to the inpatient area.

At the time, Boland said nearly $700,000 in savings would be realized from the adjustments, with the money going against WDMH’s budget deficit.

It was a tough decision to make, though the CEO said it strongly positioned the hospital.

The Ottawa Hospital announced last month it would be eliminating 35 full-time jobs as part of a $26-million cost saving effort. Meanwhile, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario said in early March it would be shedding upwards of 50 staffing positions in response to an anticipated $6.7-million shortfall in the hospital’s 2015-2016 budget.

At Brockville General Hospital (BGH), six non-clinical positions were eliminated, saving the medical facility $425,000. In 2013, seven jobs were cut, a cost saving measure totalling roughly $700,000.

According to BGH administration, a further $1.9 million in savings will be needed in the coming months, and more layoffs are expected.

“We are good in contrast to other hospitals,” Boland said. “We have achieved financial stability, and are being careful with our finances.”

The hospital is also prepping for a full rollout of the Upper Canada Health Link initiative, which then health minister Deb Matthews launched at WDMH last spring.

“It’s very much in its infancy,” Boland said.

WDMH is leading the network planning, which will partner the medical facility with about 16 outside providers, including Dundas Manor, the Township of Osgoode Care Centre, various physician practices and more, to better assist patients with complex medical needs.

As well, the village hospital has received increased provincial funding for an expanded outpatient physiotherapist, and is moving forward with its quality improvement plan for 2015-2016.

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