Group of local doctors supports recommendation for two new hospitals ~ Commentary



The recent recommendation of MAHC’s Capital Plan Development Task Force (subsequently approved by the MAHC board) that both the Bracebridge and Huntsville sites be redeveloped as new buildings has naturally produced reaction—both positive and negative. Our purpose in writing is to respond to the negatives expressed and support the many positives we see from our perspective as physicians.

Firstly, we strongly support the Task Force recommendation for two new facilities. We believe two new rebuilds, with the one in Bracebridge on a new site, is the best redevelopment approach, especially for another 50 years. Collectively we participated as active members of the Capital Plan Development Task Force, alongside our municipal leaders, our Foundations and Auxiliaries, and other members of MAHC’s Administration and Board. Our work was based on fact, expert studies and objective analysis, and in the end we participated in an evaluation exercise to collectively score the five potential building options. We stand behind the results.

The criteria used to score all proposed options were as follows:
• the continuation of high-quality patient- and family-centered care and the least impact on patients/staff;
• alignment with MAHC’s goals and strategic plan;
• the promotion of health and wellness;
• the ability to enable innovation;
• the facilitation of operational excellence;
• the possibility for future flexibility;
• the promotion of community connection and system integration;
• that the plan meets the ‘Quadruple Aim’ of health care (better care, better patient experience, better value and better provider experience);
• the project duration (fastest to build);
• the community’s support (from survey feedback);
• regulatory support;
• the cost to build; and
• the affordability of the plan.

A few points must be made about the costs, as at first blush they do seem daunting. We recognize all the options are expensive and require millions of dollars over time.

The cost difference between the renovation and replacement options is not substantive enough to compromise safety, the provision of high-quality care, and the effectiveness of our workspaces—all of which help us recruit and retain skilled providers. Renovations, especially of an entire hospital, are incredibly disruptive to patient care. Our recent very small, but necessary, renovations to build secure rooms in our Emergency Departments were quite an awful experience. Renovations were estimated to cost marginally less than new builds; however the savings were not significant enough to warrant the disruption and unpredictability of full renovations.

If the Ministry approves the project we are putting forward, the Ministry itself will pay 90 per cent or $430 million of the $560 million construction cost. We believe the local share, which after adjustments for reuse of existing assets and capital campaign commitments by our Foundations is in the $74 million range, is affordable for our communities if we start preparing now.

To conclude, we agree with investing in a future that not only considers the cost to our children and grandchildren, but also the quality and effectiveness of the hospitals we choose for them. We do not feel this is best accomplished by trying to make old buildings work. We believe that to meet current standards, and to incorporate modern technology, while anticipating new approaches to care in the future, new builds are the most cost effective and efficient approach.

Sheena Branigan, MD
Caroline Correia, MD
Jennifer Macmillan, MD
Keith Cross, MD
David Mathies, MD

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  1. Patrick Flanagan on

    The suggestion that “the Ministry itself will pay 90 per cent or $430 million of the $560 million construction cost” needs clarification.

    Does it mean the Ministry will pay
    (A) 90% of $560 million, which is $504 million, or
    (B) $430 million, which is about 77% of $560 million?

  2. Good catch, Patrick! Furthermore, the Ministry will NOT pay 90% of $750M (which, IMHO) is the minimum that this project will cost.
    Also, there is something rotten in the state of Denmark, when a second storey cannot be added to the Huntsville hospital without major disruption to the patients. Can nobody just call a spade a spade? The Bracebridge hospital was not constructed with the forethought of its northern neighbour; although sufficient property does exist to build out instead of up. Patients, however, would be necessarily disrupted.
    Ergo, due to poor planning in Bracebridge, it is a fait accompli that they will get a new hospital. Not to be outdone, it became mandatory for Huntsville to be similarly rewarded. The only Ministry with any monies to contribute (from their huge 1% budget increase) is education. Any attempt in that direction will make this fracas look like a tempest in a teapot. This proposal had legs under the previous free-spending Liberals: Now it has no chance, and even suggesting it, will set back healthcare in Muskoka.

  3. Rob Millman …due to poor planning in Bracebridge? Are you jealous? or.. just plain and simple ..mad .. because the Huntsville hospital ..its .. same old .. same old .. old hospital .. old infrastructure etc etc? Yet ..Bracebridge has PLANNED for a brand new ..up-to-date … everything .. hospital etc etc! Sure sounds like you are being hypocritical of Bracebridge!? But need to worry …by the time the powers that be ..start these project you can DOUBLE the cost and double the cost for the communities! It will be a nightmare for everyone it is now .. trying to make ends meet! Watch!

  4. jean marie bagshaw on

    I would like to thank everyone involved in making this difficult and complicated decision…for the time and effort it took to make it. I would also like to thank the physicians for writing this letter explaining some of the reasoning that has gone into it. This will not be a short-term project and therefore, we have time on our side. Money makes money and if we start now to fund-raise and invest, by the time our savings have seen the benefit of compounding interest, we will have accumulated the money we need. Think positive, my friends, this is the right decision. We just need to commit to it, put our shoulders to the wheel and lo and behold we will have pushed our way over the financial hurdles.

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