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GBGH, Waypoint get funding boost from province

'This is recognition from the government that medium-sized hospitals have been underfunded for so long,' GBGH chief of staff says

Two local hospitals are getting a much-needed cash infusion from the province.

With an announcement at Georgian Bay General Hospital Thursday, Simcoe North MPP Jill Dunlop unveiled the province will provide GBGH with a 2.8% funding increase for the current fiscal year as part of her government’s commitment to ending “hallway healthcare.”

“Every day, Georgian Bay General goes above and beyond to provide excellent care,” said Dunlop, who also expressed gratitude for those who have continued to work on the front-lines during the pandemic.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our local hospital has provided exceptional care to patients and families in Simcoe North. We know that exceptional care will continue well after the pandemic ends.”

A couple of hours later, Dunlop travelled to neighbouring Penetanguishene where she announced Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care will receive an additional $2.75 million, which accounts for a two percent funding boost.

Under the Midland hospital plan, GBGH will receive $1.7 million with $1.3 million of that dedicated to areas dealing with growth, efficiency and patient flow.

“We are very appreciative of this welcome news,” GBGH CEO Gail Hunt said, pointing out that knowing the additional funding’s coming makes it easier to plan.

“It’s a great announcement, especially getting it at this point in the fiscal year.”

Over at Waypoint, CEO Carol Lambie said the Penetanguishene facility is “incredibly grateful” for the 2021/22 base funding increase.

“This  funding ensures we can continue to provide the safe, high-quality mental health and addiction care to those most needing our services,” she said. “We extend our sincere appreciation to Minister Dunlop and the Ontario government for their support.”

Dr. Vikram Ralhan, who serves as GBGH’s chief of staff, said the funding bump is definitely needed at the hospital, given how much the local population continues to grow and the overall demographic ages.

“This, I think, is recognition from the government that medium-sized hospitals have been underfunded for so long,” said Ralhan, who has worked at the hospital for 13 years.

“Now, we have the opportunity to start doing more.”

Hunt noted that the new funding comes at a very opportune time, given the fact the hospital operated at 43% over capacity for the past month.

As well, more than $300,000 of the new funding will go towards reducing waiting times for diagnostic procedures like CT scans and surgeries such as cataract surgery.

“There’s still a lot of pressure,” Hunt said, referring to a backlog in elective surgeries and diagnostic testing that has undoubtedly led to some people’s conditions potentially worsening.

“Some are more advanced in their illnesses and have had to wait. We were still doing urgent and emergency procedures.

“Our goal will always be to provide timely access to care at our emerg and across our hospital,” Hunt said, pointing out the hospital staff continually strive to improve the overall patient experience.

“We’ll continue providing our community the sixth best times in the province for patients first seeing a physician. It (funding) will also be utilized to help put patients in beds – not hallways - and provide more local patients with care closer to home by increasing the volume of important diagnostic testing and procedures we can provide.”

Additional support for Ontario’s hospitals as part of Ontario’s Action Plan includes $760 million to help hospitals continue to respond to  COVID‑19 and an additional $300 million to reduce surgical backlogs.

Over the last three years, Dunlop noted the province has made significant investments in Ontario’s hospitals as part of its plan to end hallway health care. This includes overall sector increases of 2% in  2019-20, 3% in 2020-2021 and most recently, 3.4% in 2021-22.

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Andrew Philips

About the Author: Andrew Philips

Editor Andrew Philips is a multiple award-winning journalist whose writing has appeared in some of the country’s most respected news outlets. Originally from Midland, Philips returned to the area from Québec City a decade ago.
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