SBGHC’s AGM shows progress despite pandemic challenges

·4 min read

GREY-BRUCE – South Bruce Grey Health Centre’s (SBGHC) board of directors held their annual general meeting electronically on June 23.

Leslie Hastie, as interim chair, gave a brief report on the past year, which she described as “busy, busy and unpredictable,” especially as the second wave of COVID-19 hit, and then, with a much greater impact, the third wave.

It was unpredictable for Hastie as well, who found herself stepping in as interim chair after the resignation in June of John Gilbert.

She used SBGHC as an acronym to describe the accomplishments of the board – the “s” stands for strategic – a new strategic plan, done in-house; “b” is for board engagement; “g” is for governance; “h” is for human resources; and “c” is for communication and collaboration. Among the new partnerships is Ontario Health Teams.

“We really have accomplished a lot,” Hastie said.

CEO Michael Barrett described the past year as “one of the most challenging years faced by hospitals in recent memory. The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on all of our lives, including our staff and physicians, and all aspects of programs and services within South Bruce Grey Health Centre. In response to the pandemic, the SBGHC team responded quickly to ensure that the hospital could continue to provide high quality health care, while ensuring the safety of our patients, staff and physicians in this new environment. Our staff and physicians responded to this challenge with remarkable professionalism and caring.”

He discussed the numbers that indicate what’s happening at the health care centre’s four sites – patient registrations at 37,170, down from 58,579 the previous year; diagnostic imaging tests at 37,171, down from 46,962; emergency visits at 28,571, down from 42,488; surgeries at 1,324, down from 1,955; admitted patients at 2,254, down from 2,569; and laboratory tests at 1,155,854, down from 1,873,916. The only numbers showing an increase were babies born – 416, up from 402, and the number of employees – 396, up from 392. The reason for the decreases was, of course, COVID-19.

“Twice, we had to ramp down surgeries,” Barrett said.

On a positive note, SBGHC has expanded services. The Foundation in Kincardine purchased a new ultrasound machine for echocardiography, so patients no longer have to travel to other centres for these tests.

The four hospital foundations and auxiliaries provided support in the amount of over $1.1 million in 2020-21.

Dr. John Stirrat, the new surgeon, works out of the SBGHC operating rooms in Kincardine and Walkerton, and together with Dr. Hector Duque and Dr. Kellen Kieffer, provides joint coverage for all four SBGHC sites and Hanover and District Hospital.

One of the biggest changes has been the shift from the Local Health Integration Network system to Ontario Health Teams, said Barrett.

He noted that people are generally pleased with the hospital care they receive; where problems arise is the “handoff” to other parts of the health-care system. OHTs, with their smaller geographies, will be better able to ensure a smooth transition.

Barrett also spoke of the three capital projects underway in Kincardine, which will transform the hospital into a modern facility able to meet the needs of a growing community.

In closing, Barrett touched on the pandemic response, which has included patient transfers out of Toronto and Manitoba.

He also touched on the determination of the board to get the emergency department at the Chesley site back to running on a 24/7 basis. It isn’t happening yet, but it will.

The terms of Paul Austin, John Gilbert, John Haggarty and Kylie Pike, expired in June 2021.

Pike has resigned from the board after 10 years.

Larry Allison is stepping down from membership on the board after 10 years.

Gilbert resigned from the board after seven years as he assumes his new position as administrator of the Chesley Hospital Foundation.

Austin had his term extended one year. Haggarty’s term was extended three years.

New board members are Dean Dunn, Tammie McFarlane and Zak Ashley.

Topping the agenda for the regular board meeting that followed the AGM was choosing a new board chair – Bill Heikkila.

The new vice-chair is Leslie Hastie. Second vice-chair is David Leonce.

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times

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