University Hospitals Kingston Foundation seeks County support for upgrades

Kingston Health Sciences Centre vice-president of missions, strategy, and communication Elizabeth Bardon and University Hospitals Kingston Foundation president Denise Cumming outline the Kingston hospitals project for councillors. (Chad Ibbotson/Gazette staff)




Kingston’s hospitals approached County councillors this week with a request for funding to support expansions and renovations at Kingston General and Hotel Dieu hospitals.

University Hospitals Kingston Foundation president Denise Cumming and Kingston Health Sciences Centre vice-president of missions, strategy, and communication Elizabeth Bardon addressed councillors at last week’s committee-of-the-whole meeting. They sought consideration for a significant funding commitment toward upgrades at the hospitals. Based on a fair share calculation — which factors in the 13,029 visits to Kingston hospitals by county residents in 2015 — the hospitals are seeking a commitment of $61,797 per year for at least five years.

Bardon said there are 24 Prince Edward County residents working in Kingston hospitals, an economic impact of $1.6 million. Meanwhile, local visits to Kingston hospitals have risen more than 157 per cent since 2006, from 5,070 to 13,029 in 2015.

From 2008 to 2017, Prince Edward County pledged a total of $502,185 to the hospitals. That money helped support renovations to the hospital’s cancer centre, helped build a new inpatient floor, and helped leverage support in the amount of $634 million from the province.

“We have a number of priorities that are on our next list,” Bardon said. “We have a number of key projects — we need to completely replace our emergency department.”

She said the hospital’s operating room suite needs to be upgraded, new laboratory services need to be added, and maternity areas — including the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) — need to be revamped.

The construction cost for the Kingston General site is pegged at approximately $570 million while upgrades at Hotel Dieu are estimated at about $20 million.

“Participation of the municipalities served by our hospitals is really critical to our fundraising,” Bardon said.

The updated operating rooms would have higher ceilings, modern infrastructure, a mobile operating table, and minimally invasive technology. Those updates will be crucial, Bardon said, as it’s anticipated there will be increasing demand on those services.

There were 785 surgeries needed by county residents alone in 2016. It’s anticipated there will be a 15.5 per cent increase in that number between 2016 and 2026. The hospitals also anticipate a 21 per cent increase in visits to the emergency department and 38 per cent more inpatient admissions for Prince Edward County residents in that span.

“Reconfiguring our busy emergency department is another very important priority to better accommodate the increased demand for critical care services,” said Bardon.

A total of 10 babies from Prince Edward County were born at Kingston General in 2016. Cumming said demand on birthing services is expected to rise as well between 2016 and 2026. Renovated space would support family-centred care, would be in close proximity to the NICU, and would include more private rooms. Kingston Health Sciences Centre serves as the high-risk birthing centre for southeastern Ontario.

“More space is needed for specialized care teams to support patients in high-risk birthing situations,” said Cumming.

County resident Moira Coull spoke in support of the hospitals, saying she’s grateful for the services provided to her family by both Kingston General Hospital and Hotel Dieu Hospital.

“Just to name a few services, we have used the cancer centre, stroke unit, and the children’s specialist for ear, nose, and throat,” she said. “These services are not available in Picton, I strongly endorse this request for funding.”

Committee took no action other than to receive the presentation.