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Riverside bucking for provincial funding

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Riverside Health Care Facilities Inc. should know next month whether it will be able to cash in on the Ministry of Health’s $2.7-billion restructuring fund for hospitals across Ontario.

Riverside submitted an application for $600,000 operating cost (for severance, counselling, and retraining costs) and $5 million capital cost for upgrades at its facilities in Fort Frances, Emo and Rainy River.

And CEO Paul Brown said he’s “guardedly optimistic” about whether the provincial dollars will come through.

“We feel we comply with the eligibility," he said Friday. "It goes a long way for replacing capital funds for La Verendrye with the loss of the CHO.”

While they didn’t have the money in the bank, Brown stressed they had the commitment of $5.6 million from the previous provincial government if the CHO went through here.

“We see this as going a long way to replacing that,” he said, adding Health minister Jim Wilson’s announcement at the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association meeting here in May didn’t include any capital funding for La Verendrye Health Centre.

Criteria for restructuring fund dollars were spelled out and distributed to hospitals. But David Roth, a spokesperson with the ministry in Toronto, noted each application would be reviewed on an individual basis.

“Then the money will be distributed according to need," he said, adding it wasn’t an "all-or-nothing” choice.

Roth wasn’t able to say how many applications the ministry received from the province’s 204 hospitals, adding a few hospitals indicated they would miss the July 18 deadline.

“And they had reasons that were valid,” he said.

The ministry is targeting the end of September to respond to the applications.

In other news, the board’s governance staff—made up of Pat Giles (chairman), Craig Saunders (vice-chairman), and Larry Armstrong, Janet Young, and Norma-Jean Johnston (committee chairpeople)—last month received a recommendation from medical staff at Riverside’s three facilities that Dr. Bob Algie replace Dr. Cam Moorhouse as Riverside’s chief of staff.

“The appointment’s usually renewed each year,” Brown explained, with Dr. Moorhouse completing four years in that position.

Meanwhile, no layoff notices are being issued to ambulance attendants here even though the responsibility is being transferred over to municipalities come Jan. 1.

“If we have the licence and we’re operating it, we think it’s premature to issue layoff notices,” Brown said.

Under their current contract, attendants must receive a six-month layoff notice.

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