The North Bay Regional Health Centre is receiving more than $10 million from the province to address lost revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic and to address operating and financial pressures.
In an announcement Friday morning at the health centre, North Bay Regional Health Centre president and CEO Paul Heinrich said the funding will help address uncertainty and “underlying financial pressures” which are unique to the facility.
The funding includes $2.2 million for lost revenues during the pandemic, such as loss of parking revenues and tuck shop sales, while $8 million addresses the “unique challenges” faced in North Bay.
Heinrich explained that because the facility is both a primary care institution and a tertiary mental health facility, it has fallen through the cracks when it comes to funding.
“Without this funding, there would be challenging days ahead,” Heinrich said.
“We have been under severe pressure over the last two years” because of the pandemic, he said, pointing to the “relentless pressure” faced by medical and non-medical staff as well as pressure on the facility’s base budget.
“I can’t say how important” the funding is to the continued operation of the facility, he said.
“It’s critically important.”
The $8 million contribution, he says, addresses “ongoing structural deficits” that have been a constant issue since the facility opened.
The health centre, he says, offers specialized tertiary mental health services, which draws from a different provincial envelope than the primary care aspects of the institution.
That funding, he said, “represents recognition by the province of NBRHC’s specific underlying structural deficit related to funding levels.
“The receipt of these funds removes the burden of financial uncertainty and will allow our team to focus on providing the best care for our patients.”
The hospital, Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli said, has “gone above and beyond all of your duties” to support patients through the pandemic.
“There was no manual, no playbook,” in operating through a pandemic such as this, Fedeli said, and “you came out on top.
“Every day we are moving somewhat closer to the other side of the pandemic,” and the hospital has “felt the financial challenges.”
The funding is in addition to the $2.6 million the hospital has received this year in covid reimbursements, another $1.9 million in covid reimbursements received in March and a $2.4-million increase in hospital operating funding announced earlier.
Heinrich said the extra funding is deserved, but said while the one-time contribution to cover the structural deficits is welcome, it needs to become a permanent boost to the hospital’s operating grants from the province.
“The work isn’t over,” he said. “The province recognizes our need, and it’s comforting for now . . . but we want this to be more than a one-time thing. We want this to be a permanent thing.”
Heinrich also said the funding announcement will help boost morale among staff, saying it means “we don’t have to worry about massive cuts” due to budget shortfalls.
“It’s a massive relief to me,” he said.
The health centre has an annual budget of about $280 million, he said.