With help from the province, the Niagara Health is finally paying off some old deficits.
In a presentation held at the Walker Family Cancer Centre Healing Garden, outside of St. Catharines General hospital, MPP Sam Oosterhoff announced Ontario is investing more than $53 million into Niagara Health System.
As well, the province will be providing additional support in the form of the Health Infrastructure Renewal Fund, on top of the initial investment.
With Robin Martins, parliamentary assistant to Health Minister Christine Elliot, in attendance, along with other dignitaries of Niagara Health and local leaders, Oosterhoff said the money will go to pay off old deficits, invest in future renovations and stabilize infrastructural issues across hospital systems in Niagara.
In the 2021 to 2022 fiscal year, an additional $1.4 million will be allocated to Niagara Health and Hotel Dieu Shaver Health and Rehabilitation Centre will receive $1.2 million through the renewal fund.
Betty-Lou Souter, first vice chair of the board of trustees at Hotel Dieu Shaver, expressed her gratitude to Oosterhoff, Martins and the provincial government for their investment. She said the irony of the situation, the fact that one of the in-patient buildings was built in the 1930s to battle a tuberculosis crisis, was not lost on Niagara Health.
She said that despite the age of the buildings, they have held through the test of time.
“We absolutely could not reach that goal without the assistance of the provincial government, for which we are very grateful,” Souter said. She said the infrastructure relief funding will “enthusiastically be committed, as soon as possible.”
“We know there’s a lot of work to be done,” Oosterhoff said. “But today’s announcement is a good first step in ensuring that our local hospitals are supported with the funds they need to provide extraordinary care during extraordinary times.”
Jensen, a general internist and the chief of medicine and medical program director for Niagara health, said the value of the investment “can’t be understated.”
She said the mantra for Niagara Health is to provide extraordinary care for all residents on Niagara, and she believes the investment will allow Niagara Health to push health care forward and continue to “strive for excellence.”
D’sa, the medical director of critical care for Niagara Health placed importance on sustaining infrastructure.
“People like looking at health care from the point of view as, ‘This is my doctor.’ What people don’t see is the thousand people behind the doctor,” he said.
He said in order for him to do his job as a doctor, he relied heavily on everyone from nurses, to cleaning staff, to general staff at the hospital.
He said the funding would help maintain staffing at all levels as well as keep buildings in good conditions so doctors could provide adequate care.
“The money will filter down to patients at the end of the day,” he said.
According to Bunny Alexander, chair of the board for Niagara Health, the funding was “most definitely needed.”
Alexander said infrastructural improvement was a key issue at the older sites that are part of the system. Namely, Port Colborne and Fort Erie’s Niagara health sites both have “big needs” such as physical building repairs that need to be addressed, she said.
Moosa Imran, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News