SUDBURY, ON –  Good health for the citizens of Greater Sudbury is not just the responsibility of the health care system; it’s a full community effort.

That was the message at this year’s Annual General Meeting of Health Sciences North (HSN).

Dr. Peter Donnelly was the keynote speaker. Dr. Donnelly is the President and CEO of Public Health Ontario, the provincial agency which provides scientific evidence and expert guidance to help shape public health policy in Ontario. 

Dr. Donnelly is a public health leader and advocate for health equity. Health equity refers to all citizens having sufficient access to the resources they need to enjoy good health, such as shelter, food, social services and health care.

“I share the view of many of my colleagues working in health. And that is, good health is many things – a good education and early start in life, a safe place to live, a steady job with good wages, access to timely health care when we need it,” says Dr. Donnelly. “It takes many partners working together, both within and outside of the health system, to ensure everyone can achieve their full health potential.”

Nicole Everest, Chair of the HSN Board of Directors, says HSN understands and supports the principles of heatlh equity. “As a Board, we have been strong advocates for the much needed investments in our health care system such as home and community care, long-term care, supportive housing and community mental health.”

This year’s AGM also marked the final report from Dr. Denis Roy,  HSN’s President and CEO. Dr. Roy is retiring at the end of the month.

“It has been an absolute pleasure and honour to serve as HSN’s President and CEO for the past seven years. It has been one of the most rewarding times in my career,” Dr. Roy told the audience attending the AGM.  “We have made remarkable strides. The people of Greater Sudbury and northeastern Ontario can take pride in knowing they have a first-rate academic health sciences centre which provides outstanding care, and is taking the lead in the promotion of population health.”

This year’s AGM also featured a final report by Dr. Chris Bourdon, who has completed his term as HSN’s Chief of Staff. He will remain as HSN’s Vice President of Medical and Academic Affairs, and as an Emergency Department physician.

“I want to thank my physician colleagues and the entire care team at HSN for their support during my time as Chief of Staff,” says Dr. Bourdon. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in this role and I look forward to working with our new Chief of Staff as we continue to provide patients with top-quality care.”

Dr. Peter Zalan will also be leaving the Board of Directors as his term as President of the Medical Staff comes to an end. The Board acknowledged Dr. Zalan’s contributions and thanked him for being a passionate advocate for physicians and HSN.

It was a busy clinical year at HSN. The Emergency Department managed 74,000 visits, a new record. There were over 24,000 admissions to hospital and 32,600 surgeries. 

For most of 2016/17, HSN was in a state of overcapacity, due to a 27 per cent increase in the number of Alternate Level of Care patients in hospital beds. These high levels of unfunded capacity resulted in an operating deficit for HSN of $7 million. 

“Both our human and financial resources are being stretched to their limits dealing with greater demand for hospital services,” notes Everest. “When you are operating at 115 to 130 per cent occupancy, you incur higher staffing and supply costs. We do not receive extra funding for this high volume of activity. Unfortunately, operating in a state of overcapacity has become the new normal, not only for HSN, but for hospitals across Ontario.
Nicole Everest will stay on as Chair of the HSN Board for another year and Floyd Laughren was confirmed as Chair Elect. Chris Redmond was elected to the position of Vice Chair, with Vasu Balakrishnan assuming the role of Treasurer.