Despite another challenging year of COVID-19, the 2022 Health Sciences North (HSN) virtual Annual General Meeting (AGM) was filled with optimism and celebration. Northern Ontario’s largest hospital celebrated the extraordinary dedication of staff, clinical advancements, a budget surplus, and another exceptional year for medical staff recruitment.
In his annual report, President and CEO Dominic Giroux highlighted how HSN continued to see improvement as a high performing academic health science centre and made progress implementing the 2019-2024 Strategic Plan despite the challenges HSN teams faced serving the people of Northeastern Ontario during a challenging second year of the pandemic.
The CEO outlined how HSN performs at or better than the Ontario average on 13 of 19 key indicators tracked by the Canadian Institute of Health Information. In 2021-2022, HSN’s average wait times in the Emergency Department were at or better than the Ontario average. Fifty-nine percent of surgeries at HSN are performed within provincial target wait times, compared to 48% provincially. HSN performs at 91% of pre-pandemic surgical activity compared to 85% in Ontario and 75% in other Northern hospitals.
Dominic Giroux also highlighted that since 2018, HSN secured $36.7 in provincial capital funding, as well as operating funding for 198 additional temporary hospital beds in Sudbury, which constitutes an annual investment of $38 million.
“The support from the Province on these short-term measures has been exceptional,” said Giroux. “We were pleased to see in the 2022 Ontario Budget that the Province is committing $40 billion over the next 10 years in hospital infrastructure. This is $10 billion more than committed in the 2021 Budget. Northerners know that HSN was built too small. We look forward to advancing these conversations with the Ministry of Health in the coming months to secure a $5 million Stage 2 planning grant for our capital redevelopment for more inpatient beds and more space for mental health and addictions and NEO Kids.”
Meanwhile, HSN’s Chief of Staff, Dr. John Fenton, reported that despite restrictions due to COVID, the hospital had another exceptional year for medical staff recruitment.
“Eleven new family medicine physicians and twenty-five new specialists have been successfully recruited to Sudbury throughout 2021-2022, thanks to a partnership between HSN, the City of Greater Sudbury and the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce,” said Dr. Fenton. “Having new physicians from such a wide range of specialties improves access to care for the people of Northeastern Ontario.”
Jessica Grenier, Chair of HSN’s Patient and Family Advisory Council, highlighted how HSN’s patient and family advisors improved care and advanced outcomes stated in HSN’s Strategic Plan while providing important patient and family perspectives on pandemic response.
“Throughout the pandemic, patient and family advisors continued to partner virtually with HSN as members of HSN’s Incident Command and Operations teams,” said Grenier. “Our members provided input at a senior level on important policies, procedures and communications. Our voices ensured a balance between HSN’s responsibility to keep patients, families and staff safe during the pandemic while maintaining a patient and family-centered approach.”
Board Treasurer Stéphan Plante reported that HSN completed the 2021-2022 fiscal year with a surplus from hospital operations of $1.9 million, following surpluses from hospital operations of $1.8 million in 2018-2019, $0.3 million in 2019-2020 and $2.9 million in 2020-2021. Plante observed that HSN’s net assets are the strongest they have been since 1999.
“We want to acknowledge the strong collaboration and responsiveness of Ontario Health and the Ministry of Health in supporting HSN in these exceptional times,” said Plante. “This puts us in a good position moving forward.”
The AGM also included a special panel discussion celebrating HSN’s 25th anniversary. The panel reflected on the evolution of HSN as a regional academic health sciences centre. Guests included Dr. Lakyntiew Aulakh (Psychiatrist), Dr. David Boyle (Anesthesiologist/Intensivist), Crystal Pitfield (Administrative Director, Critical and Emergency Care), and Melissa Stringer (Clinical Manager, Cardiodiagnostics and Perfusion Medicine Program).
Board Chair Daniel Giroux acknowledged the critical role of the Health Sciences North Foundation, the Health Sciences North Volunteer Association, the NEO Kids Foundation and the Northern Cancer Foundation and their respective board members, staff and donors.
“Not only do these teams raise essential funds for patient care, education and life-changing research, they are exceptional ambassadors of HSN,” said Daniel Giroux. “Thanks to their efforts, HSN acquired a second MRI, upgraded its previous MRI, and completed associated renovations with no debt. In total, they funded over $6 million in critical equipment and invested in research related to cancer solutions, cardiovascular health, healthy aging and other emerging areas, and earmarked over $9 million for capital redevelopment.”
The AGM heard that Daniel Giroux and Dr. Catherine Cervin would continue to serve as Board Chair and Vice Chair in the coming year. Stéphan Plante was re-elected as Treasurer and is Chair-Elect for 2023-2024. The Board welcomes five new members: Grace Alcaide Janicas, Chantal Makela, Dr. Sanjiv Mathur, Kati McCartney and Julie Trpkovski. Other returning directors are Helen Bobiwash, Angèle Dmytruk, Lynne Dupuis, Dr. John Fenton, Roger Gauthier, Dominic Giroux, Francesca Grosso, Rosella Kinoshameg, Tom Laughren, Dr. Stephen Morris and Lyse-Anne Papineau.
Daniel Giroux closed the AGM by thanking the Board, senior leadership, employees, medical staff, patient and family advisors, volunteers, learners, the foundations and volunteer association, donors, post-secondary education partners, funders, community partners, and HSNRI colleagues for their outstanding work and support.