CCH back in black

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By Adam Brazeau 
CORNWALL, Ontario - The numbers are in - financial reports presented at the Cornwall Community Hospital (CCH) annual general meeting Thursday showed a modest operating surplus of $16,011, which paled in comparison to last year's $246,772. 

Cornwall Community Hospital

But according to CCH CEO Jeanette Despatie what the local hospital had leftover from its 2013 fiscal year is due to an unprecedented rise in hospital visits.

A trend she says is continuing into 2014-15.

Despite the drastic change in budget surplus from the 2012-2013 financial statement, CCH still boasted its third consecutive budget in the black.

The new financial statement says the total revenue for 2013-2014 was $118,430,816 (Ministry of Health - 68 per cent, other patient care revenues - 17 per cent, community mental health programs - eight per cent, and other revenues seven per cent).

Meanwhile, the hospital's expensenses totalled $118,414,805 (compensation - 67 per cent, amortization supplies and building expenses - 18 per cent, community mental health programs - eight per cent, and  medical and surgical supplies - seven per cent).

Despatie was quick to point out the nearly $8 million spike from last year's budget, which only allocated $110,743,413 towards expenses.

"We were pleased just to balance the budget at the end of March 2014 because we saw such high volumes of activity across the hospital," said Despatie in a telephone interview with Seaway News. "We had months in the last quarter of the year where our occupancy rates were as high as 132 per cent. There were times when there were 20-30 extra beds open in the hospital just to manage the demand. Honestly, that was the greatest single impact on our expenditures last year."

In May, there were 5,200 visits to the emergency department. The highest volume CCH has ever seen in a single month.

"We don't know the answer. It's across the board. It's not one type of disease in particular," she said. "Certainly, our population is aging and will continue to be a factor. It likely speaks to some of the increases."

Despatie says hospital staff is doing everything they can to keep the black budget streak alive and well for a fourth year.

"We will have to ensure that we're efficient as possible and work at maximizing funding opportunities," she said. "It's a real challenge. The province of Ontario is not 'flush' these days as everyone knows it so it's very difficult to realize more funding even when you have these needs with volume."

Besides celebrating a balanced budget, CCH officials also reflected on all the hospital's recent accomplishments.

At CCH, in the last decade, there were 500,000 ER visits, 6,000 babies born, 1,000,000 diagnostic procedures, 60,000-plus acute discharges, an average of 1,500 catarac procedures a year, and over $144 million invested in building, equipment, and technology.

"There have been so many changes from a positive prospective," said Despatie. "Ten years ago, we were two small hospitals. Today, we are the largest provider of care in the area. We responded to our community’s needs and to Ontario’s healthcare strategy by integrating services, facilities, systems, and staff. The consolidation was complex but our people worked hard, always focusing on patient needs. In 2014, the consolidation will be complete with the entire acute-care team at the McConnell site."

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