Carla Allen photo
South West Health will be raising the price of hospital parking to $4, starting Sept. 1. With $800,000 presently being generated through parking fees, it is a significant source of revenue to help maintain programs and services for the institution. The increase is expected to generate an additional $220,000.
The parking increase was noted in South West Health's 2014-2015 business plan. This is the second time in 12 years that the cost of parking will increase by $1. In this case from $3 to $4. Monthly parking passes will increase from $20 to $25.
"We know this will not be popular, and we apologize for the concern it will cause,” said CEO Blaise MacNeil. “We did not make this decision without first exploring all other options.”
South West Health hospitals have had paid parking since 2002. Parking is just one area South West Health focused on in efforts to control and reduce costs.
The budgets of all programs were reviewed to find opportunities which would have the least impact on direct patient care. South West Health looked at administrative and support efficiencies, such as; better management of vacation banks; the elimination of some vacant positions, and; switching to less costly cell phone packages.
In a budget of over $94 million this fiscal year, South West Health had to find ways to offset over $1.5 million in rising cost pressures, such as higher costs for medications, and medical and surgical supplies. A large portion of the shortfall ($286,000) is a result of a dramatic increase in fuel transport costs after the closure of the Imperial Oil refinery in Dartmouth last year. Fuel oil now must be trucked from Quebec at a significantly higher cost.
“We worked closely with directors and managers to explore all options to meet our budget targets in a way that has a minimal impact on direct patient care,” said MacNeil.
“As much as possible, we try to meet our budget targets by being more efficient, finding cost recoveries and generating revenue. Without the ability to generate some revenue, we would need to reduce or cut health services patients depend on.”
The Department of Health & Wellness has approved South West Health’s 2014-2015 budget and business plan.
The district health authorities and the IWK Health Centre will receive the following in operational funding from the Department of Health and Wellness this fiscal year:
-- South Shore District Health Authority, $75.9 million
-- South West Health, $84.3 million
-- Annapolis Valley Health, $117 million
-- Colchester-East Hants District Health Authority, $73.9 million
-- Cumberland District Health Authority, $53.2 million
-- Pictou County District Health Authority, $68.1 million
-- Guysborough-Antigonish-Strait District Health Authority, $72 million
-- Cape Breton District Health Authority, $255.3 million
-- Capital Health, $752.7 million
-- IWK Health Centre, $208.2 million.
This is the last year government will approve business plans for nine district health authorities. On April 1, 2015, there will be one district health authority for the province, plus a separate board for the IWK.
More details of the South West Health plan can be found on the website.
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