/HHHS AGM shows year of overcoming adversity

HHHS AGM shows year of overcoming adversity

by Thomas Smith

Haliburton Highland Health Services has overcome adversity this past year. Despite frequent challenges, the HHHS has implemented new programs, hired 80 new staff members, community support services, and had a total of 20,000 volunteer service hours logged.

Due to the Ontario Not–for-Profit Corporations Act (ONCA) that was proclaimed on October 19, 2021 non-profits must comply by October 19, 2024. A new prototype by-law Corporate By-Law 2024-1 was passed. Another special resolution was that the number of Directors on the Board for the HHHS Board of Directors shall be fixed at eighteen and that “the Members empower the Directors to fix the number of Directors by resolution of the Directors from time to time.” The Professional Staff By-Law 2024-1 was also confirmed as a by-law. The details of these by-laws can be found at the HHHS website www.hhhs.ca.

One audience member asked about the balance of directors across the four municipalities

“What happens with the nominating committee is we advertise three times in the newspaper, and we look for three candidates who are interested in joining the board. We do, definitely. When we receive all of the applications, we look at what skills they have to fill holes and where they live. We did not refuse any applicants this time. It is something we try to do and I will say this year, we actually had some supporting individuals reach out in Minden to drum up more applicants and extended our period for receiving applications in order to allow the individuals from Minden to join the board,” said Irene Odell, board chair and treasurer of HHHS. Mayors Liz Danielsen and Murrary Fearrey have joined as HHHS Board of Directors.

An audit from BDO Canada was conducted as well. As independent auditors, their job was to provide opinion on finances, perform risk assessment, internal control, and analytical procedures and amounts.

In the HHHS’s Statement of Financial Position, the assets total including cash, investments, accounts receivable, inventories, prepaid expenses, investments, and capital assets totaled $27,649,245. The liabilities and net assets including bank indebtedness, Ontario Health advance, accounts payable and accrued liabilities, current portion of long-term debt, employee future benefits, deferred capital contributions, long-term debt, and asset retirement obligation totalled $33,202,641. This resulted in a total unrestricted net debt of $5,553,396.

“This year HHHS has made significant improvement, revenue increased by 3.8 million. Unfortunately our expenses went up 1.9 million,” said Ulvi Ishkhagi-Bayat, CFO of HHHS.

“Ulvi is providing information he can provide today. We will be here tomorrow, assured Odell. “Ontario hospital funding is challenging, we are not the only organization facing those challenges.”

When the government repealed bill 124 received funding to cover the bill. However, only 85 percent of the funding has been received.

Funds from the sale of locations were moved to the CT scanner project, which was approved by both boards.

“The way forward is not by integration but by partnerships and increasing workflow,” said Odell.

‘Today we are better off, but still not in the clear. We still have work to do but know that we have taken many steps to serve those in the county.”

Later, Odell stated that “closing the Minden ED mitigated the very high risk of both Haliburton and Minden ED being shut down at the same time with little to no notice, leaving the county without any emergency services. To be clear, if Haliburton ED closed, Minden would not have remained open.”

Kawartha North Family Health team and ParaMed Health services are two companies that have teamed with HHHS to provide healthcare in the county. Services such as the Minden Urgent Care Clinic and Virtual Care Clinic operate at the site of the former Minden Hospital. The site is currently leased to Kawartha North Family Health team. These services have contributed to a 29 per cent decrease in ED visits from 2022/23 to 2023/24.

“Together we are providing healthcare services to more people in our county. Together, that number exceeds more than what we could have done with our two emergency departments,” said Odell.

“We are at 146 per cent occupancy right now, that’s a lot of people,” said Veronica Nelson, CEO of HHHS.

The new CT scanner will be available for emergency cases 24/7 and times slots will be left open periodically throughout the day to allow emergency patients to be seen, promised Nelson.

For four months this summer, HHHS will bring in agency nurses to work to fill positions.

“Our aim is to get enough staff, so we don’t need agency nurses,” said Nelson.

“We hope to hear about our funding soon. Imagine that. Part way through the year and we still don’t know what our funding is,” said Nelson. “I’m expecting some relief from the Ministry and a good adjustment to our infrastructure problem that we have had for a number of years.”