By Chad Ingram
Published June 28 2016
Times have certainly changed throughout decades of health care in Haliburton County.
The annual general meeting of Haliburton Highlands Health Services was a much larger affair than usual last week. With the organization celebrating numerous milestones in 2016 members of the community were invited to a luncheon and networking event before the meeting at the Pinestone’s ballroom on June 23.
This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Haliburton hospital the 50th anniversary of the Hyland Crest long-term care home the 45th anniversary of the Haliburton Hospital Auxiliary the 20th anniversary of the HHHS Foundation and the 15th anniversaries of both the Minden Hospital Auxiliary and Highland Wood long-term care facility.
Audrey Northey shared some memories of working at the Minden hospital during some of its early years.
Northey got a job at the Minden hospital after arriving in the community with her husband in 1959.
“He thought he was in paradise but I was not happy about living in Minden” Northey told the room.
As Northey explained protocols at the time were a bit different than now she and other staff routinely performing X-rays without the use of lead aprons.
The accepted conclusion was that it couldn’t be too hazardous to one’s health since many staff had children and therefore still possessed the ability to procreate.
“We had 80 babies delivered in a year but once the pill came out that slowed down” Northey said to hoots of laughter.
At the time required supplies were delivered to the hospital by local police officers and one patient transfer to hospital in Toronto was done using an Easton’s meat market van.
HHHS interim CEO Carolyn Plummer said the date of the meeting was appropriate since it marked the 80th anniversary of the original Haliburton hospital – the building where Canoe FM is now located – to the day.
Plummer gave an overview of various HHHS programs including the implementation of its new telehomecare program in partnership with the Ontario Telehealth Network and the Community Care Access Centre.
“This is a program that involves virtual health-care monitoring” she explained. The program which is helpful for patients with conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure was established in November with assistance from the Haliburton County Development Corporation and has more than 70 clients.
HHHS administered 3800 physiotherapy appointments had more than 300 new admissions to its mental health programs and 87 patients pass through its palliative services.
Its diabetes education group is one of the busiest such groups in the Central East Local Health Integration Network Region Plummer said
There were more than 15000 visits at the Minden ER and more than 12000 at the ER in Haliburton Village.
HHHS also has a new enhanced human resources plan and new staff recognition activities.
“Our staff have been through a lot of changes over the past few years” Plummer said. “New ways of working together are being explored every day.”
Some staff members were on hand to talk about their jobs.
Jean Hancock has worked in supportive housing for nearly 20 years. Supportive housing services allow people to stay in their homes longer.
“Some of the people I work with . . . I bathe them I walk them” Hancock said. “They’re like family. My theory is you’re not born alone so you shouldn’t have to live alone. When I get up in the morning I’m so blessed because I know where I’m going and I really want to get there.”
Heather Townsend is with the local GAIN (Geriatric Assessment Intervention Network) team which provides assessment and recommendations for care of at-risk seniors such as those with cognitive impairments or those who are at risk of falling or have experienced a fall.
“We are for our clients but also for the caregivers of our clients” Townsend said. “We’ve had a lot of successful days in our first year.”
Auditor John West of firm McColl Turner presented the organization’s financial statements. HHHS ended the fiscal year with a deficit of more than $420000. Salaries wages and benefits rose by some $1.75 million from the year prior and Turner said an increase in sick time had contributed in part to these heightened costs.
Salaries wages and benefits constituted the largest chunk of HHHS’s nearly $25 million in expenses at more than $15220000.
The largest portion of the organization’s budget came directly from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in the amount of nearly $20 million.
The leaders of the Minden and Haliburton auxiliaries and the HHHS Foundation provided updates on their fundraising activities thanking the community for its contributions.
The foundation has raised some $916000 for a new palliative care suite at the Haliburton site. After some delays with the province the project is now out to tender. Executive director Dale Walker said she hoped the foundation wouldn’t have to raise much more money for the project but would in order to fulfil its commitment to fund the addition.
Its next campaign will be for bone densitometry equipment. The foundation has raised more than $13 million in its 20-year history.