By Paul Dreossi, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
During the Perth South Council meeting that took place on Tuesday, January 14th, Mrs. Andrea Page made a presentation on behalf of the Stratford General Hospital’s 2020 fundraising campaign. Page’s presentation reminded Councillors that Ontario Health Care funding does not cover 100% of the costs associated with running the Stratford General Hospital. Due to this gap in funding, municipalities that are served by the hospital, including Perth South, are being asked to allocate funds from their 2020 draft budgets to commit to maintaining and improving the facilities and the effectiveness of the hospital’s services for local residents. Page pointed out that during the hospital’s last campaign, dated to 2006, Perth South councilors directed $242,746 in funds to the Stratford General Hospital over a span of five years. Acknowledging the financial strain faced by municipalities due to current provincial cutbacks, the foundation is not proposing any increase on the 2006 municipal funding, proposing that the same figure be committed to, nearly 15 years later, and payable over a 10-year span rather than the prior five-year term.
While provincial funding covers the hospital’s day-to-day operational costs, including some staffing expenditures, it is clear that the renewal of dated technologies and the implementation of new equipment that is essential to the maintenance and improvement of services offered by the hospital are not covered. Current technologies are essential in providing basic and specialized care equally, but there are greater ramifications to the investment of new technologies and equipment; it attracts doctors. The recruitment and retention of physicians and staff are directly related to the technologies and equipment that a hospital can offer. The tools for the job must be on-hand and current in order for staff to accomplish their work, and outdated facilities are not likely to attract or retain staff.
Page presented very specific examples of the planned improvements at the Stratford General Hospital. Funds from municipalities are spent on the recruitment and retention of staff, the replacement of dated equipment and the redeveloping of infrastructure in the following three key areas: laboratories, chemotherapy treatment facilities, and pharmaceutical facilities. Specifically, the chemotherapy facility will be moved to a purpose-built space in the hospital, the 15-to-20-year-old X-ray machines will be renewed, and new MRI and ultrasound technology will be installed. Additionally, operating room technologies will be improved with digital image capturing technologies that improve both surgical procedures and patient recovery times. Stratford General Hospital also aims to fundraise for new software programs that enable physicians to share information more specifically and efficiently in the care and treatment of their patients.
It is important to underscore that these funds, ensuring the above facilities, technologies and staffing, are directly utilized by the citizens in this area. For example, from 2018 to 2019, the chemotherapy usage statistics show that there were 361 recipients from the Town of St. Marys and 179 patients from Perth South. Day surgery procedures show 754 patients from St. Marys and 254 from Perth South. Lastly, patients using the CT imaging technology, totaled 339 from the Municipality of Perth South, and 1,231 from the Town of St. Marys.
Perth South Councillors agreed in principal for the need for the allocation of municipal funds to aid the Hospital in supporting and caring for its citizens, and will be reviewing the allocation of funds in the 2020 draft budget. Further information regarding the Stratford General Hospital Foundation can be found at sghfoundation.org.