Hospital out of fiscal intensive care months early

Scarborough’s Centenary Hospital is back in the black six months ahead of schedule.

The hospital’s deficit elimination plan, implemented by the Rouge Valley Health Care System (RVHS), has cleared Centenary of its shortfall, says David Brazeau, RVHS director of public affairs. The hospital had planned for a balanced run rate by 2009 and a surplus from 2010 onward.

“It has been entirely successful,” Brazeau said. “In fact, we are in a position of modest surplus that will be used to purchase new equipment.”

A surplus is necessary to maintain aging hospital facilities, something that hospitals don’t get separate funding for, he said.

“We wouldn’t be able to do that if not for the deficit elimination plan,” Brazeau said.

In March 2008, the RVHS announced the deficit plan, which would include downsizing 220 positions over a three-year period through early retirement and attrition.

The cuts have included lab technicians, mental health workers and histologists.

Despite opposition from the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), which challenged the timeliness of job losses during a recession, the plan has been fully executed.

OPSEU spokesperson Rick Janson told the Toronto Observer that the cuts could mean longer wait times for patients.

However, the RVHS has insisted the cuts have not scarified service but rather “eliminated waste”, according to Brazeau.

“We’ve kept our promise to maintain volume on hospital services,” said Brazeau, noting patients are going home sooner and the infection rate in the hospital has dropped. “We as a hospital are more focused.”

Another 14 positions were scheduled to be removed in February but were saved due to a 1.5 per cent funding increase in this year’s Ontario budget proposal.

“Hospitals have an inflation rate of about 4.5 per cent to maintain,” Brazeau said. “A 1.5 per cent increase does not cover the needs every year. We have to become much more efficient.”