Hamilton Health Sciences Caring in Challenging Times

Media Release
For immediate release
Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hamilton Health Sciences Caring in Challenging Times

In these unstable economic times, hospitals, like all other organizations and public institutions, are working hard to balance their budgets. In 2009-2010, Hamilton Health Sciences' operational costs will rise 4 to 5 per cent while its funding increase will be just 2.1 per cent. That translates into a $25 million deficit or 2.5 per cent of the hospital’s $1 billion budget.

In response to this challenge, Hamilton Health Sciences has conducted a comprehensive review aimed at identifying efficiencies that can be implemented without reducing the volume of patient care that its family of facilities provides.

HHS' first step was to cut $4 million from the corporate management sector of the organization last fall. Its next step will be to act on the findings of an extensive benchmarking process to implement changes across all programs, including clinical programs. (Benchmarking means comparing the organization's performance to other teaching hospitals of similar size to see if it is functioning as efficiently as possible.)

A number of overall cost saving strategies will be pursued such as: office equipment efficiencies; consolidating, co-locating and better coordinating some support services; improved drug utilization and product standardization; changes in the caregiver skill mix and hours-per-patient-day on some clinical units; and efficiencies through improved use of technologies.

"Although we have done everything we can to minimize the impact on our staff, these changes will affect jobs," said Murray Martin, President and CEO of Hamilton Health Sciences. "We know that about 250 of our 10,000 staff will be directly impacted. We are hopeful that most of those people can move into existing vacancies, and that some will be able to take advantage of voluntary exit or early retirement options."

Next week HHS will begin telling its unions and staff about the details of these changes. Staff who are affected will be informed in face-to-face meetings with their managers. Staff members who leave the organization will receive extensive, individualized support including counseling and career/financial planning advice.

"Hamilton Health Sciences remains wholly committed to quality patient care and safety," said Brenda Flaherty, Executive Vice President, Clinical Operations. "The changes we are making have been carefully considered and selected because they will enable us to do what we must do -- balance our budget while providing accessible, sustainable health care services to this region."