Summary of February 26, 2007 Board Meeting

The Miramichi Regional Health Authority Board of Directors held its monthly meeting February 26, 2007 at the Miramichi Regional Hospital. The following are highlights of the meeting:

1. Financial Summary

The Finance Committee of the Board reported that at the end of December 2006, the Miramichi Regional Health Authority had a nine month operating deficit of $998,000. It was noted that the deficit had decreased as a result of a budget amendment for the approved orthopedic program. Contributing factors of the deficit include costs associated with physician locums and high occupancy rates of patients in the emergency department observation area waiting for a hospital bed.

2. Recruitment Update

In his report to the Board, Gary Foley, president and CEO was pleased to report that two anesthetists, a psychiatrist, a surgeon and an internist will be joining the health authority medical staff in March and April. Discussions are continuing with a radiologist, an emergency department physician, an urologist and an internist. Applications for ophthalmology and internal medicine are currently being reviewed. He also indicated that Dr. Carl Hudson, vice-president of medical affairs would be leaving his current position at the end of March 2007. Dr. Hudson had tendered his resignation a year ago indicating he wanted more time to spend in his family practice. Foley said he is in active discussions with several candidates to fill this position on a full-time basis.

3. Miramichi Regional Health Authority to be highlighted at National Conference

The Miramichi Regional Health Authority will be recognized as one of three regions in the country as making significant improvements in medication reconciliation as part of the Safer Health Care Now program. The region will be showcased at the Safer Healthcare Now national conference in Montreal where their national results will be released. The primary goal of medication reconciliation is to eliminate undocumented intentional discrepancies and unintentional discrepancies by reconciling all medications, at all interfaces of care, for all patients. Over the past year, the medication reconciliation team at the MRHA developed a process where all patients admitted to the Miramichi Regional Hospital have their medications reviewed by a pharmacist within the first 24 hours following admission. This is accomplished as a means to reduce the potential for errors stemming from home medications. The team has been consistent in submitting their data and demonstrating improvement in this area.

“We are very proud of this accomplishment and a sincere thank you is extended to the team involved in this achievement,” said Russell Whitney, Board Chairperson. The Safer Healthcare Now program is a Canadian strategy that was introduced over a year ago to help improve the safety of our healthcare system in Canada. It is supported by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. There are six interventions involved in the strategy, all of which are being implemented at the Miramichi Regional Health Authority.

4. Methadone Carries are temporarily suspended

As a means to protect the health and safety of methadone clients and the community, the Miramichi Addictions Recovery Centre has temporarily suspended the use of methadone carries. A carry is a daily dosage of methadone given to the client in a locked container by the community pharmacist to administer at home. “This privilege is only given to clients who meet certain criteria in the program,” says Marilyn Underhill, vice-president of professional services. “The carries have been temporarily suspended as a result of clients reporting to the clinic that they were being harassed to sell their methadone on the street.” Police authorities have been made aware of this issue. Methadone is an effective and legal substitute for opiate drugs and is considered by Health Canada as an evidence based treatment of choice for opiate dependency. The drug helps prevent withdrawal and eliminates or reduces drug cravings without the individual feeling high. Methadone is a narcotic and if not taken under the supervision of a physician can have negative affects. Underhill says this decision was not reached lightly and that it was implemented as a proactive measure to protect the health and safety of the methadone clients and the community. She says this practice will be evaluated on an ongoing basis.

The methadone clinic officially opened in June 2005. There are currently 165 clients in the program and 228 on the waitlist.

5. Health Authority pursing dialysis service

In his report to the Board, Gary Foley indicated that he has been in recent discussions with officials from the Beausejour Health Authority regarding the provision of dialysis service in the Miramichi Region. Currently the Beausejour Health Authority operates a six bed satellite dialysis unit in Miramichi. A year ago, in response to stakeholder meetings with the MRHA, the George Dumont submitted a proposal to the DOHW to increase the service level from six dialysis units to twelve. Two options are being reviewed for the location of the six additional unit. The first is to add to the existing site and the second is to move all twelve into the MRHA Facility. The Board agreed to submit a letter to the Beausejour Regional Health Authority expressing their desire to partner in this project as regional statistics indicate that the residents of this region are at a high risk of requiring dialysis service.

6. Construction to begin on Pediatric Clinic

Construction will begin on the new pediatric clinic at the Miramichi Regional Hospital on March 5. The 4 West pediatric unit will be renovated to accommodate the new clinic. Patient care on the pediatric unit will not be disrupted during the construction. The public will be asked to enter the pediatric unit through the adjoining unit of 4 East Medical Palliative Care while construction is underway. The Department of Health is funding the project at a cost of $412,000 as identified in the organization’s health and business plan. The goal of the clinic is to provide outpatient/ambulatory daycare services to the region’s pediatric population.

7. Report of the Chairperson

In his report to the Board, Russell Whitney, Board Chairperson said he had the opportunity over the last month to meet with local MLAs and the Minister of Health to advocate the enhancement of services in the region specifically the enhancement of services for alternate level of care patients waiting for a nursing home bed, cancer care treatment funding and regional funding. He also advocated for the government to move forward in developing the Anglophone Medical School. He indicated that the Minister of Health had informed the provincial board chairpersons that the health care system is currently being reformed and that he had no detailed information to share. The Minister welcomed any suggestions the board chairpersons had for health reform.

Mr. Whitney also noted that he had attended the Miramichi Regional Hospital Foundation’s Gala and acknowledged the generous donation made by Dr. Gerard Losier and his family to the Foundation. On behalf of the board, he has written a letter to Dr. Losier thanking him for his contribution that will help enhance health care in the region for years to come and help the organization achieve its vision of “healthier people, healthier communities.”

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