SUDBURY, ON – Health Sciences North (HSN) completed the 2019-2020 fiscal year with $338,000 in excess revenues over expenses from hospital operations. This is the second year in a row that HSN ends the fiscal year in a balanced position meeting provincial requirements.
“We sustained a balanced budget, while facing increased overcrowding, opening two overflow units in the North Tower and the South Tower of the Ramsey Lake Health Centre during flu season and absorbing $1.5 million in costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic for the month of March alone”, explained HSN President and CEO Dominic Giroux at HSN’s first virtual annual general meeting held on June 24th. More than 200 people participated.
HSN reports that hours worked by employees increased by 2.5% in the last fiscal year. Patient experience survey results improved again this year on most of 35 indicators tracked, remaining above the average of Ontario teaching hospitals on most indicators. The Sam Bruno PET-CT Suite opened. The Province approved a second MRI which will be operational in 2021. A new partnership with University Health Network, Sinai Health System and Women’s College Hospital now gives Northerners access to a much higher number of fellowship-trained sub-specialists in medical imaging. HSN appointed its first Director of Indigenous Health and was recognized by Research Infosource as Canada’s research hospital with the highest percentage increase in research income.
Board Chair Floyd Laughren announced that the Board has re-appointed Dr. John Fenton as Chief of Staff for a second three-year term beginning on July 1st. Dr. Fenton has been a vascular surgeon at HSN since 1994. Pursuant to the Public Hospitals Act, the Chief of Staff is accountable to the Board on matters related to the quality of medical care and is appointed for a three-year term, renewable once.
“Dr. Fenton has provided exceptional leadership over the past three years, and we are delighted that he has agreed to continue to serve in this role for another three years,” said Laughren.
“It is with gratitude that I will continue to serve the members of the medical staff, HSN and the communities that we serve. I want to thank members of the Medical Advisory Committee, the Senior Leadership Committee and members of the professional staff for their ongoing support,” said Dr. Fenton.
In his report, Dr. Fenton also noted the incredible achievements of the medical staff during the pandemic, saying the hospital took all necessary steps to prepare for a surge of patients. He highlighted the recruitment of 35 new physicians in the past year, including 12 family doctors and 23 specialists.
The annual general meeting featured Matthew Anderson, CEO of Ontario Health, as guest speaker. Ontario Health is the new provincial agency that consolidates 20 agencies including the 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN), Cancer Care Ontario, eHealth Ontario and Health Quality Ontario to name a few. Anderson joined Ontario Health as CEO this past February, having previously served as CEO at Lakeridge Health, William Osler System and the Toronto Central LHIN.
“We are trying to find ways to improve how we deliver healthcare to patients and families,” said Anderson. “We want to break down silos and make the system work better for the people who need it. From what I’m seeing, HSN is on the right track and building momentum to make those improvements to improve care for patients from across Northeastern Ontario.”
HSN’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic was highlighted in a report presented by HSN CEO Dominic Giroux. That report points out that as the virus was spreading in other parts of the world, HSN began preparing back in January for COVID-19. This work included reviewing protocols related to infectious disease management, working closely with Public Health Sudbury & Districts, ensuring proper supply of personal protective equipment, and working with community partners to free up space in the hospital for a potential surge of COVID-19 patients.
“We opened one of the first COVID-19 Assessment Centres in the province to divert potential COVID-19 patients away from the Emergency Department,” said Giroux. “Our approach and setup served as an example for cities across the province. Other hospitals reached out to us to rely on our experience to help set up their assessment centres.”
Giroux also noted that the exceptional efforts of front-line workers at HSN captivated and inspired the community as Craig Fielding and Katriina Ruotsalo made an unsolicited gift of $1 million to support HSN’s COVID-19 efforts. Giroux also praised the HSN Foundation, the HSN Volunteer Association, the NEO Kids Foundation and the Northern Cancer Foundation for approving a joint strategic plan and working as one team supporting HSN and its research institute.
HSN’s 2020 AGM was the first for Floyd Laughren as Board Chair who will continue in this role in the coming year. Daniel Giroux and Vasu Balakrishan were re-appointed as Vice Chair and Treasurer respectively. Vasu Balakrishnan, Francesca Grosso, Rosella Kinoshameg and Tom Laughren were re-appointed for a three-year term as Board members. The following Board members will continue to serve in the coming year: Dr. Dominique Ansell, Dr. Catherine Cervin, Dr. Killian de Blacam, Lynne Dupuis, Don Duval, Dr. John Fenton, Roger Gauthier, Dominic Giroux, Dr. Kevin McCormick, Lyse-Anne Papineau, Stéphan Plante, Chris Redmond and Lisa Smith.
“The Board has been inspired by the collective resolve of everyone at HSN throughout the pandemic,” said Laughren. “Employees and medical staff focused on providing crucial care to patients and achieving zero transmission of COVID-19 among healthcare workers. They were successful and on behalf of the Board I want to express my sincere appreciation for the determination and commitment of everyone on the frontline.”
Jessica Grenier, Chair of HSN’s Patient and Family Advisory Council, shared tangible examples of how HSN’s patient and family advisors improved care in the past year, advancing desired outcomes articulated in HSN’s 2019-2024 Strategic Plan such as the implementation of a regional electronic medical record. She paid tribute to the late Charles Ketter, long time basketball coach and teacher, who passed away this year. “Charlie’s impact at every table was undeniable. The room always fell silent as he shared his story and explained what patient and family centered care meant to him and his family.”