Headwaters CEO shares how the hospital adapted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic

July 29, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

It was an unprecedented year for the local hospital and Headwaters Health Care Centre (HHCC) CEO Kim Delahunt shared some of the highlights during a presentation to Mono Council last Tuesday (July 20). 

Headwaters Health Care Centre (HHCC) CEO Kim Delahunt was at Mono Council last Tuesday (July 20) to share some highlights from the hospital’s annual report and how it adapted through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As you can all imagine, the past 16 months have been massively disruptive to all of our regular activities inside the hospital,” said Delahunt. 

“The pandemic has touched every part of our operational and financial footings at the hospital. It played a role in every decision, action and response since early 2020 and it continues to do so, although we are on our way to recovery and renewal.”

Delahunt noted that HHCC had to rapidly assemble a whole new branch of operations to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic after it reached the community last March. 

“We right away instilled extra cleaning and disinfecting processes. We supported additional lab testing. We accepted many patient transfers from other hospitals. We supported staff being redeployed to long term care facilities within our community and also within other parts of our hospital where we needed extra support,” said Delahunt. “We also managed to ensure that we had 100 per cent personal protective equipment coverage for all of our staff. And we also rolled out a regional PPE program to support our community partners as well. And we of course, rapidly adjusted to new information coming out daily, often in terms of new guidelines, new processes – all of that.”

The COVID-19 Assessment Centre at Headwaters was quickly deployed and became a crucial part of tracking the prevalence of COVID-19 locally as well as determining who was infectious. Over 86,000 people came through its COVID-19 assessment centre since its creation and 5,000 of the laboratory tests for the virus were conducted at HHCC.

There was an addition of 20 beds to support patient transfers from other hospitals or increased hospitalizations in the community. 

HHCC has also been involved in mass vaccination clinics with Public Health.

Delahunt noted that the hospital had to hire over 180 new staff since the pandemic started last year to support various new roles and replace the many healthcare workers who left or retired during COVID-19. The hospital has over 800 staff, so this accounts for a roughly 20 per cent increase. However, finding people to fill the 180 new roles was a difficult task, according to Delahunt.

“At one point we actually had 117 vacancies across the hospital, many of which were in frontline positions,” she said. “There’s huge competition. There’s also huge fatigue, and burnout, but we did persevere.”

Delahunt added that Headwaters wasn’t alone in its human resource challenges, as hospitals right across the province struggled to fill position as well.

During her presentation to Mono Council, she took a moment to recognize all of the staff at Headwaters that make it possible for the hospital to provide quality care day after day. 

“It couldn’t be done without our excellent staff and physicians,” Delahunt lauded. “Our team certainly rose to the occasion each and every day over the past year.”

The community also rose to the occasion in terms of fundraising, as the hospital saw record monetary support, totalling $5 million, from the community. 

The HHCF auxiliary volunteers have not yet been able to return to the hospital, however, Delahunt noted that the hospital is developing a plan for their safe return.

When looking at the hospital’s financials, the last fiscal year ended with a deficit of approximately $700,000, largely stemming from COVID-19 expenses incurred early on in the pandemic. However, this fiscal year there’s been a surplus of just over $700,000, due to the timing of the Ministry of Health’s reimbursements for those COVID-19 expenses from last year.

Meanwhile, the community paramedic program offered through Headwaters was expanded through the pandemic, supporting palliative care for patients at home and is now also administering COVID-19 vaccines in patients’ homes. 

A 24-hour support model and coverage for mental health in youth under 18 was introduced at HHCC during the pandemic as well.

In terms of facility upgrades, ventilation was improved, high efficiency filters were put in place, a backup generator was installed and roof repairs are ongoing

“We are going to look at emergency department renovations because we so dearly need to renovate and expand our footprint,” said Delahunt.

Going forward, she said the impacts of the pandemic will continue to be felt for many months, but HHCC is optimistic about the declining rates of infection and increasing vaccination levels in the community and across Ontario.

“All of this is going to help stabilize us,” she noted. “So I’m pleased to share that everything’s getting back on track, we’re continually reprioritizing and we’re looking at opportunities to build back better.”

Following Delahunt’s presentation, Mono Mayor Laura Ryan offered her thanks and appreciation.

“Let’s hope that it will be clear skies going forward and best of luck with your new projects,” she said. “Always nice to hear the great work that you and your team are doing.”


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