Riverside Health Care gets funding boost

Sam Odrowski

Local health services are set to receive a small boost in funding.

Kenora-Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford visited the district on Friday to announce that the province is investing $260,000 in Riverside Healthcare to address its funding challenges.

The local investment is part of $68 million being distributed to 66 small-sized hospitals and 23 medium-sized or multi-site hospitals in an effort to end “hallway medicine” and improve services.

“This funding is intended to support hospitals like Riverside Health Care that have less flexibility to achieve efficiencies and the difficulty of service pressures over a large catchment and land space,” Rickford said at La Verendrye Hospital on Friday.

Riverside Health Care CEO Ted Scholten said the $260,000 will assist greatly with the hospital’s overall deficit and general operating budget.

“It’s exciting to have a boost because each year you budget on what you think your going to get and sometimes you don’t get that amount,” he noted.

While the hospital doesn’t struggle with hallway medicine in its strict definition, at times it’s difficult to find room for patients due to staffing pressures, according to Scholten.

“It’s not a matter of physical room but having enough staff to manage the demand that’s in the emerg department and/or on the floor,” he explained.

Scholten added that increased investments are always appreciated and help reduce financial burdens associated with providing care.

“Our challenge is that we feel like we are insufficiently funded for the breadth and depth of all that we do across the district because we are highly integrated and have been that way for several years,” he said.

“With multiple sites we have additional challenges that single sites don’t have.”

Rickford said his government has done a performance review and discovered that for the past 15 years, small- to medium-size hospitals, such as La Verendrye, had been short-changed.

The $68 million increase in funding for 89 hospitals around the province is meant to address those financial challenges.

“We understand and appreciate that healthcare systems like the one here in Fort Frances-Rainy River, through Riverside Health Care, continues to face pressures and I think it’s pretty safe to say that’s a reality around the province,” Rickford remarked.

“We’re doing our part to strike that important balance between creating a pathway to balancing our budgets but not compromising or cutting healthcare spending and today’s a reflection of that.”

During the funding announcement, Rickford also lauded the success Riverside Health Care achieved through its accreditation review.

“We scored 98.6 percent accreditation on more than 2,000 accreditation standards, so congratulations to you Ted and your extraordinary team,” he enthused.