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Sun Country Health Region approves budget

The Board of Sun Country Health Region (SCHR) approved a balanced operating budget this week for the 2010-2011 fiscal year that aims to support SCHR’s strategic priorities while ensuring the best use of resources for patient/resident/client care.

Total expenditures in 2010-2011 are budgeted at $123 million, with salaries and benefits for staff making up almost 80 per cent of total expenditures.

SCHR received an over- all increase of 3 per cent in funding from the Ministry of Health for 2010-2011. However, to meet the requirement for a balanced budget, it was necessary to reduce operating costs by $1.9 million

SCHR will accomplish the necessary savings through numerous efficiency initiatives including meeting established targets for reducing overtime and sick time costs, reducing lost time due to work place injuries, improving support for employees in its return-to work-program and participating in Provincial shared service initiatives.  In addition, SCHR will make changes to non-mandated health care services, leveraging existing staff vacancies where services are not able to be delivered due to Physician shortages and reducing the number of long term care beds.

The reduction in the number of beds is minimal and isolated to two facilities in Carlyle and Wawota. Moose Mountain Lodge in Carlyle has had ten beds temporarily closed for over five years. These beds are now confirmed as permanent closures. Operating changes in Wawota will culminate in a net reduction of two multipurpose beds and three long term care beds.  SCHR maintains one of the highest per capita bed numbers for long term care clients in the Province and it is confident quality care and reasonable access will not be compromised with these changes.

“These are not easy decisions to make,” says Sharon Bauche, SCHR Board Chair. “To create an equitable and efficient system with limited resources, we have to look all areas where change is feasible and rational. We have more long term care beds for the population numbers than most other health regions in this province.”

SCHR will no longer be in a position to subsidize the services of a Podiatrist for the coming year, but will continue to provide foot care through its specialized nurses. Podiatry is not a required program under Saskatchewan Health Care and SCHR is unable to continue subsidizing this service. The SCHR Podiatry Nurse and Home Care Nurses will continue to take referrals for foot care services that can be delivered by nursing staff.

SCHR also had to make temporary reductions in hospital services in Arcola and Redvers Health Centres. With few or no physicians in those communities, emergency and inpatient services are not being provided. When additional physicians are recruited, the services and staffing will be restored to these facilities.

Mr. Cal Tant, President and CEO, said the budget supports SCHR’s strategic priorities: contributing to healthy people in healthy communities, fostering a healthy workplace, and ensuring sustainable health care service.

"We are committed to the Ministry of Health's priorities for health care and to ensuring that we end the fiscal year with a balanced budget," he said.

Media: For more information, please contact Joanne Helmer, Communications Coordinator, Sun Country Health Region, 842-8353. Posted June 4, 2010.

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