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Provincial auditor’s report flags critical condition of Saskatoon hospitals, care facilities

Saskatchewan's provincial auditor addressed changes that were recommended for health-care facilities in the Saskatoon area. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin

Saskatchewan’s provincial auditor followed up on recommendations made back in 2019 to health-care facilities in Saskatoon and the surrounding area, noting that only a couple of the ten recommendations were implemented, and that maintenance was needed for worsening conditions.

The auditor’s report, which was released Tuesday, said two recommendations were implemented, seven were partially implemented, and one recommendation had no progress made as of July 2022.

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It noted that the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) reported regularly to senior management about maintenance activities, and that facility conditions are formally assessed, with the last formal assessment in 2020, and a Building Operations Maintenance Plan was in development.

But the report said the formal assessment indicated that facility conditions overall in the Saskatoon and surrounding area were in critical condition, and worsening.

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“Not completing timely maintenance increases the risk that an asset may fail and cause harm to residents, patients, visitors, or staff,” the report read.

According to the SHA annual report, the organization spent $75.1 million on repairs and maintenance expenses in 2021-22, with an additional $126.8 million spent on additions to buildings and improvements, as well as in-progress construction.

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The report said there are at least 50 health-care facilities in the city of Saskatoon and surrounding area that serve more than 360,000 people in some 100 communities.

SHA owns 30 of those facilities, with the remainder owned by affiliates. SHA isn’t required to maintain affiliate facilities, but may do maintenance upon request.

Saskatoon and the surrounding area have 10 hospitals, 29 long-term care facilities, 18 health centres and other health-care facilities.

The report said a facility condition index (FCI) measures the condition of health-care facilities, determining whether the condition of a facility is good, fair, poor, or critical.

Any facility measuring 30 per cent or more on the FCI is considered critical. In 2019, the average FCI for the area was 50 per cent; as of July 2022, that average had risen to 62 per cent.

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One of the facilities in that category was considered good, two were considered fair, three were considered poor, and the remaining 46 were labelled as critical as of July 2022.

A list of the facilities in Saskatoon and the surrounding area. Provincial Auditor of Saskatchewan

The report noted that SHA had not established a measurable service objective.

It added that as per the auditor’s recommendations, information in the maintenance IT system for facilities in Saskatoon and the surrounding area was updated, but user access wasn’t restricted to facilities that the users are assigned to maintain, nor was there a system to track changes users make to facility and component information.

SHA said it was in the process of getting a third party to design a new maintenance IT system which is anticipated to be in place by the end of March 2024.

The report also pointed out the inconsistency of preventative maintenance activities, giving the example that preventative maintenance for beds ranges from inspections every month to every two years.

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According to the report, the SHA was developing a Building Operations Maintenance Plan, the draft of which included measures to make preventative maintenance a more consistent and standardized thing.

Another recommendation from the auditor stated that planned maintenance activities could be used to help set the maintenance budget, but the report noted that SHA hadn’t yet implemented anything.

The report said that the maintenance budget was built using historical data which limits the ability to accurately predict the cost of maintenance.

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