Cornwall hospital ends 2020 pandemic year with surplus

Cornwall Community Hospital CEO Jeanette Despatie (far left, second row from bottom) speaks to members of the CCH Board of Directors during the annual general meeting on Wednesday, June 16, 2021. The hospital ended a challenging pandemic year with a $492,911 surplus. (CCH/Zoom via Newswatch Group)

CORNWALL – An influx of cash from the Ontario government for COVID-19 allowed the Cornwall Community Hospital to finish 2020 with a surplus.

During its annual general meeting Wednesday afternoon, the hospital reported a $492,911 surplus for the fiscal year ending March 2021 on its nearly $146 million operating budget. That’s down significantly from the $1.3 million surplus in the previous year.

Revenue was roughly $145.6 million while expenses were about $145.1 million.

Part of the 7.5 per cent increase in revenue was $12 million from the Ministry of Health to cover expenses associated with the coronavirus pandemic. That staved off the hospital going into the red as overall expenses rose 8.3 per cent from the previous year, driven by staffing costs and supplies.

Meanwhile, the hospital is still chipping away at its long term debt with $6.3 million left to pay. It made about $1.5 million in debt payments last year. One loan is debt from amalgamating the two hospital sites prior to 2010, which will be paid by November 2023. The other is for the Community Addiction and Mental Health Center building due in 2041.

“2020 and it looks like 2021 will be forever known as the year of the COVID-19 pandemic. We will have different memories of this time because we all had different experiences,” CEO Jeanette Despatie said in her report.

Despatie says the challenges for the hospital transformed from a struggle to obtain resources – namely personal protective equipment (PPE) – with a mostly empty hospital to the latter stages where the hospital was struggling for beds to accommodate patients.

“When faced with the demand that we are not in control of is a frightening situation. We did not know from one day to the next what to expect and I can only imagine how this felt to our front line staff coming on staff,” Despatie said.

The CEO says there’s more uncertainly ahead. “We have not lived through a global pandemic nor have we lived the recovery. There is more to learn but I can assure you that we are committed to embracing this phase with the focus on our people.”

Even with the pandemic, Despatie says they have been able to meet other goals like a district stroke center for stroke victims that will launch soon and the online patient portal for people to access their medical records.

The AGM also saw CCH Board of Directors chairwoman Debora Daigle retire after serving nine years on the board.