Feb. 9, 2016
I am writing in response to Ian McCallum’s CityScope opinion article of February 6.
First, let me say that we value the coverage that our hospital receives from the Times-Journal and other media outlets. Recently, your journalist Jennifer Bieman covered two stories from STEGH, one about our new District Stroke Center and the other our 2016-17 budget plan, in a very balanced and informative manner. I would like to offer some rebuttal to the subsequent negative commentary found in Mr. McCallum’s column.
There are always impacts to budget plan decisions. We consider them thoroughly and take them very seriously. Our primary focus is on our duty to deliver safe, high quality care and an excellent patient care experience. However, we must also consider our duties to our employees, physicians and volunteers; to the needs of our community and to operate within our financial limits to achieve the provincially mandated balanced budget.
Our challenge is always to balance these sometimes competing obligations on our way to making the best decision we can, with the information we have.
Some important facts for your readers to know about STEGH’s experience over the last six years;
- Maintained balanced budgets every year (actually, since 2006)
- Reduced our debt, which was once among the highest, to a level below the average for all hospitals in Ontario
- Absorbed annual cost increases averaging 1.5%, while budgets for Ontario hospitals have been frozen at 0% annual increases.
- Increased overall staff by 7%.
- Increased housekeeping staff by 22%.
- Increased nursing staff by 8%.
- Decreased management positions by 26%.
- Caring for measurably sicker patients.
- Achieved patient satisfaction scores averaging 94% (at the top ‘excellent’ and ‘very good’ levels.)
- Recruited great new doctors who continue to strengthen our Intensive Care capability, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Surgery, Medicine, Mental Health and Diagnostic Imaging services.
- Experienced a 37% increase in visits to our emergency department while sustaining the lowest emergency wait times in Ontario.
- Received one gold and four platinum Quality Healthcare Workplace awards from the Ontario Hospital Association.
- Received two Accreditation Canada awards at the ‘Exemplary’ and ‘Commendation’ levels.
- Obtained project approval, and launched construction on the biggest new STEGH build since 1954.
- Established STEGH’s first ‘Patient Experience Council’ of skilled volunteers from our community.
- Selected as one of four District Stroke Centers in the southwest LHIN.
- STEGH Foundation raised over $14 million in support of STEGH’s ‘Great Expansion’ from generous donors throughout St. Thomas, Aylmer and across Elgin County (largest fundraising campaign in community history). Important to state that donations to hospital foundations in
Ontario can only be used for building projects and equipment and cannot be used to support day-to-day operations.
I am very proud of, and value the work of all of our fine STEGH employees, physicians and volunteers including our Board of Governors and Foundation Board, who are truly responsible for these achievements. I do want to make a special shout-out to our housekeeping staff. They are important members of our healthcare team. We have invested in them as noted above, and we receive many compliments about their efforts to keep the hospital clean. Frequently the comments speak of appreciation for their careful attention to detail, and their kind interaction with our patients and families.
Finally, to answer Mr. McCallum’s questions related to transcription services. Yes, STEGH realized the anticipated savings and the quality and accuracy is excellent.
Read more about STEGH’s accomplishments using the links below: