Letter to the editor: Changes being made at the Brantford General Hospital
By Jim Hornell
I would like to dispel some of the rumours and misconceptions we have been hearing in the community regarding some of the changes being made at the Brantford General Hospital (BGH).
This misinformation includes: that our Fracture Clinic is closing, that cancer treatments have been cut and that there has been a reduction in operating room time for plastic surgery. I thank those who have reached out to us after they heard this inaccurate information. I also apologize if you have heard these or similar rumours because you have been provided with incorrect information.
We are making changes within the Brant Community Healthcare System (BCHS) to keep up with changes in how healthcare is funded and because BGH has grown to be a large community hospital handling more and often sicker patients. Many of the changes have stemmed from recommendations made by consultants from Ernst & Young, who we invited into our organization to conduct a voluntary strategic operations review last year. As a publically-funded organization we needed to take action because the way we were conducting the business of healthcare and allocating funds/resources was crippling our current and future operations. These recommendations were made to assist us in addressing our deficit and provide us with solutions to be more efficient, as well as enable us to focus on fulfilling our role in the community as an acute care hospital.
Based on these recommendations we have recently announced changes to the ambulatory services we provide at the Brantford General Hospital. These changes affect non-urgent, non-emergency services that are most appropriately delivered outside our acute care hospital, yet still within our community. These are also services we are not paid by the province to provide, and therefore add to our deficit.
We need to focus on our mandate as an acute care facility to provide the best possible hospital care for our communities. This is how we are funded. Many hospitals throughout the province do not provide these types of non-urgent, non-emergency ambulatory services for this very same reason. When we provide these services, such as follow up appointments, consultations, injections and some minor procedures and dressing changes, we do not earn funding for them. We are also not funded by the province to provide the overhead, such as building costs, registration, utilities, nursing, cleaning, etc., to support physicians to deliver these services. These are services that can be provided within a community setting, can be more convenient for patients and can take funding away from the acute care resources our patients need in our hospital.
In our healthcare system, physicians are compensated directly by the province to provide these services to their patients, and are able to provide these services outside of the hospital setting — i.e. within their own offices or in clinics as is done in many communities across the province.
The BCHS will continue to support physicians to provide care for their patients who require resources within a hospital setting, and patients will continue to receive the appropriate range of ambulatory services at the Brantford General Hospital.
Please be assured that cancer cases and other critical services that are core to an acute care hospital will continue for our patients. Also recognize that physicians will continue to manage and prioritize their wait lists for these services. For example, we would expect that a physician would use his or her hospital resources for procedures and services that are most acute and of greatest need before non-acute and elective matters.
Thank you for your understanding and patience as we make these necessary changes to be more efficient and have the resources to provide you with care when you are acutely ill. These changes also allow us to evolve with the way healthcare is delivered in our province.
President & CEO
Brant Community Healthcare System