As the year winds up, many people take time to consider their charitable givings. There are plenty of organizations clamouring for charitable contributions, with a vast array of worthy issues stemming from social, environmental and religious causes, specific diseases or calamities, with equally varied reputations regarding the effectiveness of their efforts. This is an area of expenditures where the term “buyer beware” can be quite appropriate as there are no refunds! Amongst the charitable organizations seeking support is the one associated with our hospital, the Peterborough Regional Hospital Centre Foundation. It operates independently from the hospital, with its own, independent Board of Directors and audited financial statements. Its Board is responsible for directing donor donations where they are needed most at the hospital.
Given our health care system including our hospitals is funded by the government, their appeal for help may be surprising. Why are they asking for donations?
According to the Foundation’s website, the province funds hospitals for up to 85% of their operating costs with the remainder flowing from parking fees, cafeteria and other revenue such as private room fees. The PRHC Community Report publication suggests that the local hospital received 82% of their fiscal 2017 revenues from the Ministry of Health, an additional 8% from Cancer Care Ontario, and the remaining flowing from unidentified grants (3%), from insurance and patient payments (2%) and another 5% from unidentified sources including auxiliary services. These funds cover the hospital’s daily operating costs.
On the capital side, there is no ongoing commitment of government funding to upgrade and acquire new technology and equipment, and this is where the Foundation directs its support.
In its strategic plan, PRHC management made recruiting and retaining top health care professionals one of their top priorities. It is challenging to recruit top medical talent, particularly in rural settings. These highly qualified professionals expect access to the best tools and technology available, which ensures the best outcome for patients as well as their care providers.
The Foundation aims to distribute donor funds where they will have the most impact, and the front line hospital staff is in the best position to determine where these funds should go. Each year, every hospital department identifies, ranks and categorizes their most important equipment and technology requirements based on criteria such as urgency, safety, and how it supports the strategic directions of the hospital. The list is reviewed and prioritized, with hospital funds earmarked for some projects and others passed along to the Foundation for help.
Equipment for projects such as the Cardiac Catheterization Lab and the Breast Assessment Centre has been 100% funded by the community. In the past two years the Foundation has financed a $1 million investment in upgrading nine of PRHC’s twelve operating rooms for minimally invasive surgery, and now 80% of surgeries use minimally invasive techniques. More than $1.1 million has been invested in state-of-the-art laboratory equipment that enables faster, more accurate diagnosis and treatment, particularly in cancer care. Other areas of investment include the Emergency Department, Women’s and Children’s, Diagnostic Imaging, Cancer Care, and Palliative Care.
During this holiday season, the PRHC Foundation is focussing its campaign on investment projects in Mammography, Laboratory and Diagnostic Imaging equipment, Neonatal ICU/Labour and Delivery equipment, Emergency Room improvements and innovative, technologically-advanced equipment to support the Maternal Child Program to reduce the number of young patients who must seek specialized health care outside the community.
Donor support is helping the hospital punch above its weight in health care delivery. The Foundation has also earned an award recognizing its stewardship with through the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy, which ranks it amounts the top 25% of all health care-related foundations in North America. Gifts to the Foundation may be one of the most inclusive of charitable offerings, as at some point in time, we will all spend time at PRHC, either as a patient or a visitor. Let’s hope it’s no time soon. KG