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Ministry funding should continue: HKPR Health Unit

Posted: February 21, 2016

(February 21, 2016)

By: Valerie MacDonald, Northumberland Today

NORTHUMBERLAND – The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit’s board members voted unanimously Thursday to ask the health ministry to keep funding health units in Ontario directly.

The Ministry has proposed hand the power to the Local Health Integration Units (LHINs) in the province.

The Central East LHIN has taken over funding Northumberland Hills Hospital and is in the second round of financial cutbacks in about five years. Created by the provincial government, the agency has a mandate to rein in hospital spending and this level of funding is not meeting inflation for salaries, goods and services. During public meetings held in Cobourg and Port Hope into the most recent restructuring, significant concerns were raised about the impact on patients using the hospital and the loss of skilled staff. The Ontario Nurses Association has also warned about adverse incomes when cutting nurses while increasing in-hospital patients.

The local health unit board, seeing changes such as those at the local hospital, also wants the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care to “ensure the population and public health division of the Ministry… maintain responsibility for accountability agreements with public health units.”

Such an agreement has been forced on the local hospital under its direct management by the LHIN.

The local health unit’s recommendations, which include adopting additional suggestions from Toronto Public Health which also opposes the Ministry’s proposal that would increase power to the province’s 14 LHINs, comes just prior to Monday’s consultation and public meeting being held by the local LHIN at the Port Hope Lions Club. It takes place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. RSVP is required to the LHIN, according to a news release.

The deadline for all comments on expanding the LHINs’ powers is the end of this month.

The Central East LHIN is among the LHINs holding these consultations to provide feedback from the public and health care agencies about expanding its own powers, something the Ontario Health Coalition says has led to calls and e-mails complaining about the process which is being described as a “conflict of interest,” according to a media release from OHC’s executive director, Natalie Mehra.

The LHIN, meanwhile, in the document outlines the new health strategy, entitled Patients First: A Proposal to Strengthen Patient-centred Health Care in Ontario, and expanding its powers to include “home, care, the planning and monitoring of primary care, and would have improved linkages with population health planning.”

The health unit’s local chair, Mark Lovshin, says concern about the direction of the proposal is that it will take funding from the health unit’s prevention efforts and put it into primary care so that in the end there will be more patients needing primary care.

Among the health unit’s responsibilities are inspections of restaurants, swimming beaches, tobacco retailers, monitoring communicable disease, immunization and children’s programs including dental and others available through schools and elsewhere.

The local health unit’s recommendations are being circulated to other health units, medical officers of health, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, area school boards and Northumberland County.

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