Muskoka Algonquin Health Care says it cannot cut anymore. Short $6 million to balance its budget, the hospital board is refusing to sign an accountability agreement with its Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) that would require it to balance its budget.
The Muskoka-area hospital has gone back to the LHIN for more funding, and the LHIN is in turn is looking to the Ministry of Health for help. The hospital board admits there is no alternate plan.
Residents are fearful that any further cuts would mean one of the two remaining sites of the hospital would close. At present MAHC operates hospitals in Bracebridge and Huntsville. A third site, The Burk’s Falls & District Health Centre was closed in 2009 as part of $3.1 million in MAHC budget cuts that also included bed closures and staff cuts.
The hospital is projecting a $4.2 million deficit for this fiscal year, which is expected to grow to $6 million for 2011/12. MAHC has a working capital deficit of about $11.2 million.
MAHC Board Chair Sven Miglin told the Huntsville Forester that “this board firmly believes that Muskoka requires two acute care hospitals.”
The Chair of the North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN said MAHC was the only hospital in the province not to sign its accountability agreement.
Councillors elected to the District Council have been critical that the LHIN has not been open about the budget process for MAHC.
“The community is so frustrated,” Councillor Fran Coleman told the local newspaper, “they want answers, they want to know: are the hospitals closing?”