Terziano in support of task force’s recommendation of two new hospitals

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At their regular meeting held yesterday, the board of Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare unanimously accepted the recommendation of a task force that has concluded a new hospital for Bracebridge and a new hospital for Huntsville is the best way forward.

The recommendation by the Capital Plan Development Task Force, which has been studying the issue for the past 25 months with the help of consultants and a local share working group formed to determine the contribution that would be required from the local communities, is recommending a new build on new land for the South Muskoka Memorial Hospital and a new build on existing lands for the Huntsville District Memorial Hospital.

You can find the task force’s report here.

Recently, Huntsville and District Councillor Tim Withey expressed alarm with the task force’s recommendation. He told Huntsville councillors that building two new facilities would be cost-prohibitive and doomed for failure when submitted to the Ministry of Health for approval.

But Huntsville Deputy Mayor Karin Terziano, who attended the MAHC board meeting, said questions surrounding the option of renovating versus building new hospitals were asked. “Ironically enough, if you look at the documentation, the cost to renovate Bracebridge is actually more than the cost to build new. And the cost to build new in Huntsville versus renovation is only about $10 million more—and I don’t say that lightly because $10 million is a lot of money but when you’re looking at $295 million versus $286 million, it’s not a big difference,” she noted.

She said the consultant outlined very convincingly how difficult renovations in the healthcare sector can be. “You have to separate obviously the medical site where there are patients and people working from the reno, and that’s very costly to do and it’s also very disruptive to people who are in hospital for reasons of healing.”

Terziano also noted that there are new parameters around the type of patient rooms required, and regulations surrounding attempts at infection control, that didn’t exist when the hospitals were first built. “This is not Huntsville and Bracebidge coming out with this; this is the Ministry of Health guidelines.”

She said the majority of community members were clear during public consultations when they said they would not support just one hospital for the entire area. “So that message was finally heard loud and clear and it took a while to hear it.”

She said given that the difference between renovating and building new is not that significant in Huntsville and that there are land constraints in Bracebridge, to say one community can have a new hospital and the other can’t is also problematic.

“Who would’ve supported ‘well let’s build one new hospital in Bracebridge and just renovate one in Huntsville?’ So I’m not sure what alternative people were looking for,” she added.

“Everybody realizes that it’s expensive, that’s what hospitals are,” said Terziano. She added that it was noted at the meeting that while the local share for both hospitals was estimated at $129 million, that number would be reduced by existing assets of about $35 million and both hospital foundations have committed to $20 million between them, “so that takes the local share down to $74 million… and if that number did come from the tax base then that’s basically $80 per household per year for 15 years and that’s the time it would take you to save up enough to contribute to the local share.”

She said efforts to lobby the Ministry of Health to reduce the required local share are ongoing. “There are still people working on how we’re going to finance this and until the Ministry says ‘yeah we’re going to do it’, you’re probably not going to start raising any money for it.”

The recommendation is now expected to be forwarded to the North Simcoe Muskoka Local Health Integration Network as well as the Ministry of Health for consideration.

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12 Comments

  1. A question for Karin. Did you ask if 100% total renovation to the latest hospital build standards of existing hospital space was a government mandatory requirement for all hospital capital plans taking the renovation route? (as most hospitals do). The evidence I found of hospital projects over the recent past suggests it doesn’t happen. My rough calculations suggest that if every Ontario hospital’s capital plan either did a tear-down & new build or total 100% renovation of all existing space + expansions, the Ontario government would have to increase its hospital infrastructure budget by 4X… which of course isn’t going to happen. If anything, expect more reductions to come, given Ontario fiscal conditions. So… does the task-force really think the government will approve this plan? Did anyone ask for recently approved/completed comparison projects?
    Expect more tough questions to come …

    • verna rickward on

      We really need two hospital One in Huntsville and one in Bracbridge We were in Huntsville hospital last Saturday night with my husband and there were 6 people in there needing help from Kearney and farther north would be awful if we had to go farther

  2. I’m still not convinced that we need two new hospitals or even one for that matter.I’m betting even with a new hospital we will still have to go out of town for most major surgery just as we have to now. I really don’t find our hospital that bad nothing a little paint and a bit of fixing wouldn’t help. I have heard nothing about why we truly need a new hospital so i would like to hear a few reasons for even thinking of a new one.

  3. If the Huntsville hospital was constructed to accommodate a second storey, why wasn’t the Bracebridge hospital constructed similarly? It would have obviated all this time and money basically wasted to date. Other than noise, the existing hospitals would not have been disrupted; and I believe the cost savings would have been substantial. To what use will the existing Bracebridge hospital be put IF a new hospital is built? Does any portion of the Huntsville hospital need to be demolished IF a new one is constructed (to provide sufficient space). And what will be the use for the existing hospital (or remainder) If a new hospital is built?
    .
    I saw the financials to which Ms. Terziano is referring in the summer: They were highly suspect then, and haven’t aged well. So many expenses (land, entrance, water, sewer, hydro, high-speed internet etc.) were/are omitted from the Bracebridge estimate that it will be substantially higher than Huntsville. And the requirements of the AODA, 2005 likely haven’t been costed. The more recent necessity of having an accessibility expert onsite at both locations as a Project Manager is particularly onerous.
    .
    Mr. Withey is correct. We can’t enter into this with our eyes blinkered and just hope that everything will fall into place. It is just something else which our children will inherit; in addition to an horrendous cost to fight the climate crisis. And without that fight, most of our economy will crumble, and we won’t need two shiny, new hospitals anyway.

  4. Brian Thompson on

    I am totally in agreement with Deputy Mayor Karin Terziano. I too have looked at the report from the task force and find no fault with their recommendation to the the LHIN. As a member of Huntsville Council we challenged the original recommendations and asked them to go back to consider a two site acute care hospital for Huntsville and Bracebridge which they did. The plan put forward Thursday night has embraced that concern. I also applaud the task force with coming up with an affordable plan for all our taxpayers to provide two new fully functional acute care hospitals in Huntsville and Bracebridge…Crystal balling as to what the futures governments of Ontario might decide is just that…reading tea leaves…lets go forward from here and quit second guessing the recommendations and deal with them when they come up.

  5. Hugh
    I was asked this morning why so many people are whining about the Task Force recommendation that there be a new hospital in each town. Answer: they finally got what they have been asking for!
    Tom Pinckard.

    • Tom, most people were not asking for a brand new hospital in each town, as far as I know. I think what most people wanted was a reasonable/affordable staged plan of upgrades and investments in the existing structures, sooner, not 15 or more years down the road. This is what I have always wanted too,

  6. Tom: you must be misremembering.

    People asked for a hospital in each town as opposed to a new hospital somewhere in between Huntsville and Bracebridge. No one ever asked for two brand new hospitals that they can’t afford.

  7. Seems to me there is just no pleasing some people, if i remember right everyone was up in arms about only one full service hospital in one location with a nursing home in the other – or maybe just one big new location in Port Sydney. People, people ,people why not cut out the bickering and move on and support 2 new hospitals ? We will find the money one way or the other! Let’s go before I get too old to toast the opening of the new facility!

    • It’s very simple Jim, $600++ million is not going to happen. Muskoka has a lower average income, and little business tax base to speak of. Just one comparison example… this plan request would exceed the recently completed Burlington Joseph Brant hospital improvements (approved under a much more decifit prone Liberal government).
      Burlington has 3x our population, 10x the business tax base, and is growing 4x as fast. Please explain why you believe MAHC’s plan is reasonable or affordable, and why it will be approved by any level of government?

      All this will do is further delay getting anything done.
      Wishful thinking is not going to change the hard realities of affordability. Ontario is in poor financial shape, it’s going to get alot worse when the next down turn happens, which is likely not far off. This is no time for Muskoka to take on an enormous debt, unnecessarily.

      300 + million in staged renovations would bring much need improvements sooner, and not bury local taxpayers in debt for decades to come.

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