The Ontario government is providing more than $4.4 million to Peterborough Regional Health Centre for COVID-19 costs and support specialized care for children and youth diagnosed with eating disorders.
On Friday morning, Peterborough-Kawartha Conservative MPP Dave Smith announced that $3,409,974 will be allocated to reimburse the hospital for lost revenue during the pandemic. The funding is part of Ontario’s $572.3-million investment for hospitals across the province battling the pandemic and facing losses of revenue such as co-payments for private rooms, reduction of retail services and more.
The hospital on Thursday reported more than 130 staff were currently off work due to COVID-19. A new outbreak was also declared in an inpatient unit, the second active outbreak at the hospital. As of late Thursday, there were 36 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, down from 37 reported on Wednesday — numbers that have surpassed the peak of the Omicron variant in mid-January 2022.
“The pandemic worsened the challenges we face in health care and mental health supports after years of neglect and underfunding,” Smith said.
Smith said additional one-time funding of $1 million has been allocated to address the increased demand for services to support specialized care for children and youth diagnosed with eating disorders. The new program serves individuals under 18 who are experiencing symptoms of anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder and other forms of disordered eating.
“Today, a $4,409,974 investment builds on our work to address hallway medicine, expand mental health services, and ensure people in our community get the care they need,” Smith stated.
Brenda Weir, PRHC’s vice-president and chief nursing executive, thanked the province for the support and for staff who have “worked so tirelessly” throughout the last two years of the pandemic.
“While the pandemic funding will help to offset the significant financial burden we have seen at the hospital as a result of COVID-19, the additional investment into PRHC’s eating disorders program will help us to address a dramatic increase in the need for this important service for youth in our community and region.
“As the population in Peterborough and the surrounding region continues to grow and age, our programs and services at PRHC must also grow to meet the needs of the communities we serve in the years and decades to come, and today’s investment is an excellent step in that direction,” she added.
In a statement, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said the investment in eating disorder supports and services comes as part of the 2021 Fall Economic Statement, which allocates $8.1 million this year to address the increased demand for services for youth and children.
“Ontario’s hospitals have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic and our government is using every tool at our disposal to ensure that they are supported,” she said. “This funding will help ease the financial pressure on hospitals so that they can continue to provide high-quality care and ensure our health-care system is prepared to respond to any scenario.”
– more to come