Cornwall hospital ends 2019 with ‘required’ $839K surplus

Cornwall Community Hospital CEO Jeanette Despatie speaks at the hospital's annual general meeting on Thursday, June 13, 2019. Despatie says the hospital's $839,000 surplus will be used to pay off its long-term debt by 2023. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – The Cornwall Community Hospital has finished the fiscal year with another surplus.

As of the end of March, the health care center had an $839,353 surplus, slightly larger than the $242,955 surplus the year before. The amount is minuscule in the operating budget of over $129 million.

But CEO Jeanette Despatie explained to the hospital’s AGM Thursday afternoon that this practice is a strategy.

“This surplus is actually required to make our working capital debt obligations,” she told the audience, mostly of board members, at the McConnell Avenue auditorium.

CCH has been paying off $35 million in accumulated debt prior to 2010 during the amalgamation of the two hospital sites. The province helped out the hospital at that time with some of the debt. CCH has to make monthly payments of $107,000 until 2023 and still has $2.25 million to pay off.

Revenue – almost all of it from the Ontario Ministry of Health – was up 3.6 per cent, while expenses were only up 3.13 per cent, leading to the slight surplus.

Despatie said the biggest challenge going forward will be working with the Doug Ford Progressive Conservative government. “We are challenged to prepare for and participate in possibly the largest provincial health care transformation in several years or even decades,” she said.

Hospital board chairman Nancee Cruickshank called the financial books “impressive in our current environment.”

Outside access to electronic medical records

The Cornwall Community Hospital is also taking steps in the upcoming year to make medical records available to patients.

“The EMR (electronic medical record) will enable us to move forward on our patient inspired care pillar, through the introduction of a patient portal, giving patients direct access to their medical record,” Despatie said.

No timeline was shared on when access will be rolled out.

The EMR – actually called the electronic health record or EHR – was brought online in December 2016.

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