Bluewater Health says it needs to cut expenses by $6 million to balance books

Board endorses even as it becomes 'progressively more difficult'

Bluewater Health plans to work with an outside consultant to conduct what’s being  called a “rapid diagnostic” of the core services of its hospitals.

KPMG was invited in December to provide insights based on its knowledge of health care across Canada. The report, which cost $40,000 (funded by the Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network) resulted in cost reduction strategies for Bluewater Health to take.

Mike Lapaine, Bluewater Health’s vice president of operations and its chief operating officer, said an anticipated funding decrease from the province plus increased costs are pushing the organization into a mode of significant cuts, including reduced staff.

The organization, however, is hopeful actually job losses will be minimized. About 20% of Bluewater Health employees are of retirement age.

Bluewater Health officials believe a net reduction of 33 people will be this year’s result. A similar cost reduction approach was taken in 2013/14 but at that time, only one person left involuntarily.

A new formula for hospital funding in the province is base what Bluewater Health officials say is an “elaborate provincial database” that compares hospital performance and aligns them with their peers.

Bluewater Health’s strategy moving forward is to redesign how care is delivered, reducing the cost of that care and by extension helping to secure future funding.

In short, the better the performance, the better it will be financially for Bluewater Health.

“Change of this magnitude takes tremendous, collective effort of an organization,” said CEO Sue Denomy. “The care our community expects . . . remains at the core of our mission and our commitment to quality and safety stand strong.”

Denomy said Bluewater Health will position itself to continue to “provide those services even more efficiently and affordably.”

Bluewater Health plans to further reduce administration and support services costs by about $685,000 in 2015/16.

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