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HSN’s Annual Meeting Celebrates Decade of Virtual Critical Care for Region

HSN’s Annual Meeting Celebrates Decade of Virtual Critical Care for Region

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Health Sciences North held its annual meeting today, reporting to the community on a number of important milestones last year with advances in patient care, progress on social accountability, recruitment, as well as celebrating 10 years of its Virtual Critical Care Program.


“We have a remarkable team across the organization that provides exceptional, compassionate care and hope to the people of Northeastern Ontario. I want to thank everyone from Team HSN for their continued hard work in making this such a successful year,” said David McNeil, President and CEO of HSN and HSNRI.


The event featured a video celebrating 10 years of HSN’s Virtual Critical Care Program (VCC) – a first of its kind in Canada that has revolutionized care for critically ill patients in rural communities in Northeastern Ontario. VCC uses telemedicine to provide 24/7 access to intensive care physicians nurses and respiratory therapists for remote support and consultations. “VCC has reduced the need to transport critically ill patients, saving over $17.2 million in costs and helping more than 1,075 patients stay in their local hospitals. It’s a pioneering service model in Canada and has improved access to specialized care regardless of geography. I want to congratulate the team for this incredible milestone,” said Renee Fillier, VCC Nurse Clinician and one of the founders of the program.


Other notable achievements by teams at HSN were also recognized during the meeting:


  • HSN was recognized as being Accredited with Exemplary Standing – the highest possible score from surveyors with Accreditation Canada, a first for HSN.
  • HSN’s Shirley and Jim Fielding Northeast Cancer Centre continued to be ranked as one of the top performing cancer centres in all of Ontario.
  • HSN’s Addictions Medicine Unit was awarded a Leading Practice by Health Standards Organization. This designation is awarded to organizations who exemplify innovation and patient-centred approaches to care.
  • HSN was ranked as one of Canada’s Top 40 Research Hospitals and noted strong partnership with NOSM University, Laurentian University, College Boreal and Cambrian College.
  • Progress was made on social accountability as HSN established a new Francophone Advisory Committee, an Indigenous Health Advisory Council and a new Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Anti-Racism Committee. These committees will advise HSN’s leadership team on addressing barriers in the healthcare system for these populations.
  • HSN recruited a total of 977 new employees during the last fiscal year, while 512 left the organization -- 1.91 new employee for every employee who left. This includes 238 registered nurses, registered practical nurses and nurse practitioners.

Challenges facing HSN were also noted during meeting, specifically around record high occupancy and chronic overcrowding. In February of 2024, HSN saw a record 621 admitted patients in a hospital built for 441. Hallway healthcare is the daily reality for teams, patients and families at HSN. In March of this year, the hospital averaged 92 patients per day in unconventional spaces like overflow units, tub rooms, storage closets and hallways.


On the financial side the Board Treasurer Kati McCartney reported external auditor KPMG expressed an unqualified or “clean” audit opinion representing the highest level of assurance under Canadian Auditing Standards. Inclusive of ongoing Bill 124 expenses, inflationary expenses, investments in digital initiatives, depreciation for buildings, HSN recorded a bottom-line deficit of $348K, representing an improvement from the previous fiscal year where HSN recorded a deficit of $14.1million.


HSN Board Chair, Stéphan Plante, thanked HSN’s Foundations and Volunteer groups for another impressive year for fundraising. In the past fiscal year, the three Foundations generated a record-breaking $21 million in gross revenues. The HSN 50/50 Cash Lottery for the North generated more than $51 million in sales since its inception in June 2020, with more than half returning directly to ticket holders.


“Thanks to our generous donors and supporters, the Foundations at HSN were able to support the purchase of equipment including but not limited to $2.3 million for the Acute and Reactivation Care Centre, $170,000 for the Pediatric Critical Care Unit and $76,000 for Dialysis Chairs. In the last year alone, $1.1 million was invested in vital research to develop new medical treatments to help enhance care related to cancer solutions, cardiovascular health, healthy aging and other emerging areas,” said Plante.

Looking ahead, plans are underway for HSN’s next Strategic Plan for 2025 – 2030, which is expected to launch next winter. More than 1400 HSN staff, patients, families and community partners have been involved in meaningful discussions about our strategic direction. Improve access to healthcare, collaboration and partnerships to help improve patient care and research, as well as staff recruitment and retention are all common themes we have heard so far.


Progress on addressing HSN’s capital expansion needs was also highlighted. Ontario’s Minister of Health and Deputy Premier, Sylvia Jones, came to HSN in the fall to congratulate everyone involved with launching the ARCC, while also officially announcing a one-time capital planning grant of $5,000,000 to support early planning of HSN’s future capital expansion project to support patient care for the next 30 years. It was the second visit to HSN by Ontario’s Health Minister in the last year


At the Annual Meeting, the Board elected Tom Laughren as Vice Chair and Chair Elect, having served as Vice Chair in 2023-2024. Laughren is a former Mayor and Fire Chief of the City of Timmins. Michel Paulin, former Superintendent of Business with the Conseil scolaire catholique Franco-Nord in North Bay, was elected as Treasurer. Paulin replaces Kati McCartney, and as Treasurer, joins fellow Board officers Laughren and Stéphan Plante, Senior Vice President, Ontario of Retail Banking with Desjardins, who is starting the second year of his two-year term as Board Chair. These Board officers have a combined 11 years of experience on the HSN Board.


The Board paid tribute to departing Board members Angèle Dmytruk, Daniel Giroux, Kati McCartney, Dr. William McCready and Lyse-Anne Papineau for their combined 18 years on the Board. Their successors are Marc Despatie (who joined the Board in September 2023), Dr. Pamela Williamson (who joined the Board in October 2023), Dr. Tammy Eger (Vice President, Research at Laurentian University), Christophe Leduc (Senior Manager at MNP and Sessional Instructor at Laurentian University) and Louise Paquette (former Chief Executive Officer of the North East Local Health Integration Network [now Ontario Health]).


To review the entire HSN 2023-2024 Annual Report, please visit: Report to Our Communities - 2023-2024 Annual Report (