Saturday November 22, 2014

Sunrise balances budget, cuts beds and jobs

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Sunrise Health Region has approved a balanced budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year, but has tightened its belt in order to come out even.

The health region will eliminate its double occupancy long-term care rooms. A total of 45 beds will be removed, turning all long-term care rooms into single occupancy rooms. The double rooms will be eliminated from Canora, Kamsack, Melville and Esterhazy. After the change, 854 long-term care beds will remain.

“The double rooms that exist throughout the region are in buildings that were built quite some time ago, and the rooms are not that large,” said Sunrise CEO Joe Kirwan. “The board has looked at it for some time and decided this was the year we had to make changes anyway.”

Kirwan explained keeping single occupancy rooms will allow for more privacy, more space and improve the quality of life for long-term care residents. However, the health region will continue to accommodate couples or persons requesting to share a room.

The elimination of beds will also mean the elimination of staff.

“Any staff that are affected by those changes we will notify and work very closely with the union,” said Kirwan.

Sunrise estimates they will be eliminating about 40 full time equivalents from their staff. The regional chaplain position has already been eliminated, along with five administration positions.

The budget set a reduction goal in administrative spending of $653,000. But the majority of savings is targeted to come from reducing premium payments in sick leave and overtime.

“We were given some very aggressive provincial targets on workplace injury and overtime and sick leave,” said Kirwan. The region plans on working with their staff and unions to reduce sick time, overtime and injuries to save over $1.3 million.
While many cuts will be be made to balance the budget this year, Sunrise will not be closing any facilities. Separately funded projects such as the integrated stroke strategy and Phase Two of the energy retrofit project will continue as planned.
“I know that this year as early as December and January the province was very clear that they wanted and needed to flatten the trajectory and growth in health care expenditure,” said Kirwan. “It’s become a hard target for revenue because our revenue is pretty much provincial funding.”

Another change the region plans on implementing by October of this year is charging staff for parking. Kirwan confirmed that so far visitor parking should remain free of charge, but staff and physicians will have to pay for use of the parking lots.

Last year Sunrise ran a deficit of $713,389, which was lower than their initial debt estimate. This year, Sunrise must reduce spending by $2.86 million to keep a balanced budget.



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