New hospital battles looming – Windsor CEO talks of cuts

Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj has continually suggested that his workers should effectively pay with their wages for his struggles to balance the budget. While the province tells us they are giving hospitals a funding increase of 4.9 per cent this year, Musyj suggest it is 1.49 per cent. His audited statement says otherwise.

Musyj claims he is stuck between a rock and a hard place. His costs are going up. In real terms, he says his funding is in decline and the LHIN is insisting on balanced budgets.

He says those costs include increases in non-wage expenses that are running between five and seven per cent. He clearly has no zero-based expectations there.

With the downturn in the economy, the hospital is also bringing in less revenue for semi-private and private accommodations – affecting their budget by another $700,000.

Windsor Regional Hospital posts its audited financial and operational highlights on-line. They tell a very different story.

For 2010 the hospital received an increase in provincial revenues of $10.836 million over 2009. That’s an increase in total provincial revenues of 4.62 per cent – not far off the 4.9 per cent figure quoted in the provincial budget. In addition, the hospital shows other revenues increasing by close to $1 million. Eighty per cent of hospital funding comes from the province, albeit more of it is being specifically directed into funding envelopes. It is therefore not a surprise that WRH managed to post a small surplus this year.

Next year the province is planning on reducing the increase in funding for all health care programs by $700 million. This year that increase was $2.6 billion. Next year it will be $1.9 billion according to finance minister Dwight Duncan’s spring budget.

That means there will be about 26 per cent less in new funding – not a decrease in existing funding. If everything else remains the same – Windsor Regional would likely see a funding increase of between $7 million and $8 million, not the $2.7 million Musyj claims. Musyj paints his doomsday scenario by conveniently looking only at the allocation for his global budget, leaving out all the other provincial sources of revenue.

Musyj’s says his staff costs are increasing by $6.2 million, but that includes the cost of adding new staff for rehab and complex care in the Malden building. It also includes $1 million in increases related to workers going up the grid. The actual impact of arbitrated increases is closer to $3.6 million. This is on a hospital with more than $300 million in revenues – slightly more than 1 per cent.

Musyj says he needs the additional money to satisfy increased patient demand, but according to the audited statement, he is budgeting for fewer patient days in 2010.

It would seem that staff increases are not Musyj’s problem. He clearly has other costs that are driving his bottom line. Rather than deal with those, he is scapegoating his own staff to fit a political agenda of making legislative wage settlements acceptable.

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