By the end of this month, Health Sciences North will submit a business case for the continued operation of the Sudbury Outpatient Centre after being requested to do so by the North East Local Health Integration Network (LHIN).
The Sudbury Outpatient Centre, more commonly known as the former Memorial Hospital site, has been used for a number of purposes since all the city's acute care services moved to the expanded hospital on Ramsey Lake Road in 2010.
It has housed a number of alternate level of care (ALC) patients, or those who no longer require acute care, but cannot find placement in community facilities such as nursing homes.
The ALC facility, which currently has 30 patients, is slated to close next year.
True to its name, the Sudbury Outpatient Centre also hosts a number of outpatient services, such as breast health and screening, diabetes care and bariatric surgery assessment and followup.
The North East LHIN itself even rents space in the facility for its Sudbury headquarters.
Martha Auchinleck, the North East LHIN's senior director of performance and decision support, said her organization asked the hospital to provide a business case for the facility after it posted a $3.4-million deficit for 2011-2012.
The hospital said the much of this deficit was due to insufficient funding for the ALC beds at the Sudbury Outpatient Centre.
However, Auchinleck said the hospital received funding for this purpose based on the provincial average for transitional care beds, and she's not sure why it would have caused a deficit.
“We want to make sure that once the 30 beds close and they open this (facility) for outpatient clinical services, that they have enough money within their budget to operate it,” she said.
“That's our concern. We don't want to keep having a deficit every year because of this building.”
At the same time, the North East LHIN does support the hospital's efforts to provide more outpatient services, Auchinleck said.
According to information provided by hospital spokesperson Viviane Lapointe, the cost of operating the 60 ALC beds run by the hospital at the site in the 2011-2012 financial year was $8.9 million.
The hospital received $6.3 million to run those beds, she said.
“When you compare that to the $12 million we received in the previous fiscal year for 100 beds, we experienced a total funding decrease of $5.7 million for these beds,” Lapointe said, in an email.
Health Sciences North CEO Dr. Denis Roy said once the final 30 ALC beds close next year, the Sudbury Outpatient Centre will no longer lose money.
He said the breast, diabetes and bariatric programs are fully funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
The hospital's finance department is also at the Sudbury Outpatient Centre simply because there's not enough room for these employees at the organization's main site, Roy said.
Health Sciences North also has big plans for the space at the facility formerly occupied by ALC patients.
It hopes to open up family practice and internal medicine clinics, he said. Like the North East LHIN, the physicians using this space would pay rent to Health Sciences North, Roy said.
The hospital also wants to open a geriatric day hospital at the Sudbury Outpatient Clinic, where the health of frail, elderly patients would be monitored every day.
He said the clinic would be run with existing hospital staff.
“It is the only modality that has been shown to decrease emergency room visits by 20 per cent, and prevent and delay admissions to a long-term care home by at least 30 per cent,” Roy said.
Even with all of these services moving into the Sudbury Outpatient Centre, at least 15 rooms will be left vacant, just in case they're needed due to an emergency at Health Sciences North's main site, he said.
“There will be flexibility to accommodate emergencies,” Roy said.
Lapointe said the funding provided by the government for outpatient clinics would cover all operating costs, including overhead costs for the Sudbury Outpatient Centre building itself.
She said the hospital has not yet determined all the clinics and services which will be available at the Sudbury Outpatient Centre after the ALC beds close.
“However it is our intention to ensure that whatever services do move to this site are cost neutral,” she said. “Just like the North East LHIN, our objective is to have all operating costs fully covered for this facility, as they are now.”
Posted by Laurel Myers