The Perth Committee of the Whole received a delegation from the Perth and Smiths Falls District Hospital on Tuesday night. CEO Dr. Barry Guppy and Chair of the board Donna Howard thanked the town of Perth for the contributions they have made to the hospital in the past 2 years. “Thank you,” added Donna Howard, “for the leadership you have shown amongst the municipalities.” They requested financial support from the town of Perth in order to purchase hospital equipment and a hospital information system, among others. Dr. Guppy noted that the PSFDH is currently running a $2.6 million deficit because of the extra expenditures and lost revenue due to Covid-19.
Mayor Fenik noted that Covid-19 has brought home the importance of the hospital to this community, and added that he hopes other local municipalities that skipped contributing will take a careful look at including this in their budget.
Councillor Brown asked about the availability of beds, and Dr. Guppy said that the PSFDH is typically at, or above, 100% occupancy. The biggest challenge, he explained, is with patients who are waiting to be accepted into long-term care. “Three times in the last year, we had to cancel surgery because there weren’t enough beds,” he said. “When patients have no place to go, more often than not they wait in hospital.” Councillor Cameron pointed out that this problem is not going to go away; without intervention it will only get worse. Mayor Fenik declared that a major cause of this logjam is twofold: there needs to be an increase in the number of long term care beds; and the intake process for long term care needs to change.
Councillor Smith inquired why other municipalities aren’t helping bear the financial burden. Donna Howard pointed out that communication is key: many people aren’t aware that the provincial and federal governments do not fund hospital equipment. Councillor Bird expressed his frustration that we have a partially funded provincial health care system, and suggested the province should bear more responsibility. Mayor Fenik acknowledged that as a medium sized hospital, the PSFDH is between a rock and a hard place with needing to collect a larger amount of funds from a smaller population. He will bring this to the attention of the Health Minister.