Local Health Integration Networks were purportedly created to bring health care planning, integration, accountability, and funding closer to the 14 regions they serve. A key role for the LHINs was to engage their regional communities in this process. The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care was supposed to set the strategic directions, and the LHINs were supposed to operationalize them within the context of regional planning.
While the Health Minister has mused about further empowering the LHINs, recent signs suggest that perhaps the opposite is taking place.
The South Bruce Grey Health Centre is a case in point. Comprised of four small hospitals working under one umbrella, the Ministry of Health is not exempting SBGHC from implementation of the new funding formula. Small hospitals were supposed to be excluded from a funding system that was becoming far more reliant on volumes that rural communities could not possibly muster. By sharing resources, the four small rural hospitals that operate as SBGHC are over the budgetary threshold for exemption. SBGHC has an operating budget of $43 million – a pittance compared to some of Ontario’s billion dollar urban behemoths like The Ottawa Hospital or Hamilton Health Sciences.
SBGHC took their case to the South West LHIN and they agreed implementation of the formula on this hospital would be unfair. It would also throw SBGHC $700,000 further in debt next year if they failed to cut needed services. Continue reading