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Letter to The Spectator: Evolving health care system to address needs of those we serve, says Knox

Janet Knox, president and CEO of Annapolis Valley Health, talks about emergency departments, revenue from parking, and an evolving health care system.

By Janet Knox

 

In recent weeks, AVH has been the focus of several pieces in The Spectator – with anonymous assertions that beds are closing and ERs are in jeopardy, along with David Tinker’s opinion column calling for “straight talk” about health care, parking fees, and challenges within the health system. We respond to media requests on a regular basis and appreciate the opportunity to do so. This in itself made it disappointing that Mr. Tinker proceeded to make his claims without first contacting us to clarify issues.

The decision to increase parking rates at sites owned by AVH wasn’t an easy one but with decreasing budgets and increasing demands for services to support the residents of Annapolis Valley, hard decisions have to be made. We are faced with many difficult decisions in health care – and on a regular basis we have to seek solutions that provide the best outcomes and least harm for the people we serve. When it comes down to raising parking fees or reducing services, parking was the right decision.

In 2013, approximately $487,000 was generated from parking revenue throughout the district. The revenue from parking currently offsets capital costs and, contrary to Mr. Tinker’s claims, the money does support local sites. But in being responsible for an entire district, where the reality is that you will receive care from the facility and staff best suited to provide it based on your needs, we do make decisions that reflect the needs of our people. The increase in parking rates announced as part of the approved 2013-2014 business plan will help us offset capital and operating costs in the future.

Year to date in 2014, parking revenues have supported and offset the purchase of medication carts, drug storage units, and an echocardio unit. It has also helped us invest in design specifications and renovations. In 2013, operating room renovations and construction of a mechanical room at VRH were offset by parking funds. And since the question was raised in particular about ACHC, in the past two years a hematology analyzer and a point of care analyzer were purchased for the site; the amount spent aligns with what was raised there through parking.

All AVH sites in the district play an important role in our delivery of programs and services, as does our work in the community. By claiming an “erosion of services”, Mr. Tinker has dismissed the strategy and creativity that goes into ensuring we are able to best meet the needs of Valley residents. Take, for but a few examples, our plan to realign beds at Soldiers Memorial Hospital to support the increased need for transitional care within our aging population, the addition of staff to the SMH ER, which is one of the busiest community ERs in the province, or the success in Annapolis Royal and area around access to family physicians.

At times there are changes in how services are delivered but it doesn’t mean that people aren’t being cared for and supported when they need it. On the contrary, we evolve our health system to address the care needs of those we serve. And while at times this is complex and challenging, I assure Valley residents that the health and well-being of our people and communities is always top of mind.

 

Janet Knox is president and CEO of Annapolis Valley Health.

Organizations: Soldiers Memorial Hospital, Annapolis Royal

Geographic location: Annapolis Valley

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