Board meeting update – Northern Health

Northern Health has ended its 2005-2006 fiscal year with a very small surplus according to un-audited financial reports. At their meeting in Valemount, Northern Health Board members heard that the organization wrapped up the last fiscal year with a $280,000 surplus. That sum is equal to less than .05 of a per cent of the organization?s $484 million budget for the last fiscal year.

?We have an external financial audit that takes place every year at this time which will confirm the final surplus,? said Jeff Burghardt, chair of the Northern Health Board. ?NH is now adjusting its 2006-2007 budget plan to take into account new collective agreements reached with labour unions.?

The NH Board also approved an updated physician supply plan recommended by the Northern Health Medical Advisory Committee, which is the group representing the region?s physicians to the Board. The plan sets out general targets for physician recruitment to meet care needs across northern British Columbia, taking into account increases in surgical and internal medicine demands in the region.

?In our physician supply plan from 2003 to now, we moved from 330 full time physicians to 362,? noted Burghardt. ?This plan will help us set up priorities for recruiting more physicians in the North, with our forecast being to have 450 full time physicians in the region by 2012.

?It will take hard work to meet this goal, especially given the high demand for health professionals world-wide. But we expect that training initiatives such as the Northern Medical Program will be very helpful in meeting objectives such as our family physician recruitment target.?

The NH Board and senior staff were very pleased to meet with local government leaders and local health advocates in the Robson Valley during a reception held after the public session of the meeting. One of Northern Health?s strategic objectives is to be responsive to communities across northern British Columbia.

?I?d like to particularly thank the members of the Robson Health Association who presented to the Board,? said Burghardt. ?The group provided a detailed look at the health issues facing the area, which we will of course consider as we plan and deliver heath services in the area.?

The Board also received an update on how Northern Health spent additional funding for home and community care in the 2004-2005 fiscal year. Of the extra $1.77 million available, $920,000 paid for additional community services including new adult day centres and in-home services, with $850,000 supporting palliative care and hospice services. The funding has supported new adult day programs for seniors in Fort Nelson, Chetwynd, Kitimat and Vanderhoof? which remain open today.

The Board also reviewed a progress report from staff on measures being developed to improve patient movement from emergency departments to nursing units when a hospital stay is needed. Changes being proposed would not only involve emergency departments, but also community care programs. Care staff members are also considering measures to better support earlier discharge from hospital when it is appropriate to do so.

The next Northern Health Board meeting will take place in July in Terrace. September?s meeting will happen in Fort Nelson, with the final meeting of 2006 scheduled for November in Prince George.