More questions than answers on funding future of some Sask. health-care providers
Planned Parenthood Regina provides patients with reproductive health information and clinical services such as sexually transmitted infections (STI) testing and birth control procedures, primarily intrauterine device (IUD) inserts.
As a community based organization (CBO), they receive almost 30 per cent of their funding from the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region (RQHR). The Health Ministry wants RQHR and other regions to cut their CBO funding by 10 per cent.
For Planned Parenthood, this means these clinical services will likely be reduced.
“If we don’t have the budget, and we can’t provide the services, we will be turning people away at the door,” executive director Shelley Svedahl said.
“I don’t know what would happen if people couldn’t come here for these services, where they would fall.”
If Planned Parenthood loses funding, Svedahl anticipates the most likely cut will be reducing the availability of nurse practitioners and physicians.
Cathy Pillipow has worked at Planned Parenthood Regina for 13 years as a nurse practitioner. Currently, she spends 20 hours per week at Planned Parenthood, and is concerned about those hours potentially being cut.
“It would be a big switch, it would be disappointing. There’s not a lot of jobs out there for me. As a nurse practitioner you’re specialized,” she explained.
Pillipow added that she is consistently booked solid. She sees around eight patients per day, noting all of her April appointments were booked by the eighth.
A reduction in her hours would also mean a reduction to clinical services at Planned Parenthood. The organization can only provide these services when a nurse or physician is present.
CBOs across the province are in the same situation as Planned Parenthood. They’re all waiting for their respective health regions to submit their budgets to the Health Ministry at the end of June.
An official from RQHR said that as of April 18, no decisions have been made about CBO funding.
For now, groups like the Salvation Army Waterson Centre, Autism Resource Centre and Carmichael Outreach have more questions than answers.
Health Minister Jim Reiter said Thursday that because 40 per cent of public spending goes to health, there needs to be a focus on core services.
Tyler Gray from Carmichael said their CBO funding goes to their housing support program and harm reduction strategies, like their needle exchange.
“When it comes to core services, I would argue that preventative services should be the core if they’re not considered that, as opposed to waiting for someone to end up in the emergency room,” Gray said.
Gray added that any cuts or funding reductions at the CBO level will make their way up through the healthcare system.
“The long-term ramifications and consequences of reducing our ability to deliver services is going to significantly, negatively impact the bottom line of the health region, and the single health region when it becomes the Saskatchewan Health Authority,” he said.
After the health regions submit their budgets, ministry officials will take about a month the review them. The budgets will then be sent to Reiter for final approval.
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