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Peterborough-area hospitals say too soon to tell financial impact of coronavirus

A side view of the ambulance garage at PRHC.
A side view of the ambulance garage at PRHC. Dan Nyznik/Global News Peterborough

It’s been a balancing act for hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic.

The health-care sector is busy responding to the virus by increasing maintenance and redeploying staff while still maintaining other services and normal day-to-day needs of patients.

But when it comes to what the pandemic is costing, Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC), Ross Memorial Hospital (RMH) in Lindsay, Campbellford Memorial Hospital (CMH) and Northumberland Hills Hospital (NHH) in Cobourg gave Global News Peterborough similar statements.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Peterborough Regional Health Centre aims to resume non-urgent care in early June

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, providing safe, quality patient care has remained our top priority at PRHC,” stated hospital spokesperson Michelene Ough. “We are still only a few months into the pandemic; at this time, the full effect on hospitals and the broader healthcare system is not yet known.”

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“Although we are tracking some of our costs, we do not have any final tallies,” stated Varouj Eskedjian, president and CEO of CMH. “We do anticipate support from the Province / Ontario Health to cover our extraordinary costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“The province has requested that hospitals keep track of pandemic costs with the goal to reimburse, but to what degree we are not aware,” NHH spokesperson Jennifer Gillard stated. “The fact that we will be doing both – operating our regular services and also addressing the ongoing work of COVID-19 (screening, testing, additional cleaning, etc.) – does suggest that there will very likely be a greater future financial impact but at this point it is too early to quantify.”

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“The financial impact of COVID-19 for the hospital is not yet known, as we are just a few months into the pandemic,” stated Kelly Isfan, president and CEO of RMH.

All four hospitals said they would work together along with provincial and regional partners to figure out the financial implications of the coordinated coronavirus pandemic response.

Patios open for business in Peterborough
Patios open for business in Peterborough

According to the Ontario Ministry of Health, hospitals received $341 million to provide 1,000 acute care and 400 critical care beds and more assessment centres for COVID-19 earlier this year.

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Hospitals may also receive pandemic-related funding through the following categories:

  • $62 million for health-care workers in assessment centres, hospitals and the community.
  • $75 million for personal protective equipment and critical medical supplies.
  • A dedicated $1.0-billion COVID-19 contingency fund.

“The ministry has created a process for the tracking requirements and reimbursement for hospital-incurred incremental COVID-19 expenses. A guidance document was released to the sector in spring 2020, outlining steps for hospitals in submitting their expenses for ministry consideration,” stated ministry spokesperson Adriana Dutkiewicz. “The ministry is expecting to begin review of hospital-submitted expenses incurred as a result of COVID-19 later this month.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Kawartha Lakes health care challenges, changes during the pandemic

The four hospitals, along with Haliburton Highlands Health Services (HHHS), recently joined up to collaborate on a gradual, phased-in approach to resuming non-urgent surgeries, procedures and tests.

On March 19, the province had directed all acute care hospitals to ramp down elective surgeries and non-elective surgeries and non-urgent activities in order to preserve system capacity to deal effectively with COVID-19.

On Tuesday, CMH will resume elective diagnostic imaging, surgical and endoscopy services and outpatient clinics.

The hospital is exploring all of its group mental health services programs, including virtual options.

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