Health P.E.I. spent more than expected last fiscal year, especially in three areas — hospital care at the QEH and Prince County hospitals, long-term care, and drug programs.
Denise Lewis-Fleming executive director of financial services for Health P.E.I. delivered the news during her report to the annual meeting recently.
Health P.E.I. paid out some $548 million for health care on the Island last fiscal year, about 42 per cent of the entire government budget, she said.
Just over 43 per cent of that health spending went to hospital care, some $233 million, said Lewis-Fleming.
P.E.I. admitted 15,900 patients to hospital last year. They received a total of 170,000 patient-days of care with 10,500 surgeries performed.
“The actual length of stay is about three days longer than what would have been expected, comparing ourselves to peer hospitals,” said Lewis-Flemming.
There was good news in one aspect of hospital care.
“Our emergency department visits have decreased from the previous year,” she said, down to 100,631 — a drop of about 1,500 visits from the previous year.
Hospital costs do not include doctor payments, she said, but it does include salaries for other health workers.
In fact, of the total $548 million in health expenses, about 65 per cent of that goes to salaries, some $354 million across the entire system.
“A significant chunk of our budget is spent on our health human resources,” said Lewis-Flemming.
Health P.E.I. spent 1.8 per cent of its budget on administration costs, she said.
It received $24.7 million more from government this past fiscal year than in the previous year, but of that increase, some $8 million went to increased wages and benefits from collective agreements. Supplies also rose in cost, taking another $2 million of the budget increase.
“There was (also) some investment in ambulance services,” said Lewis-Flemming. “There was some enhancement done in the West Prince area as well as in the Kings County area.”
Long-term care took 13 per cent of total health expenses, including $1.3 million for new long-term care spots across the province.
“I fully realize that the financial numbers do not always tell the whole story,” said Lewis-Flemming.
She cited how elderly people are waiting a long time in hospital beds for community supports to be in place or for a long-term care bed. That in turn can delay surgeries because there is no bed available for the recovering surgical patient.
“We continue to work every week, I could probably say every day, with the department to identify possible strategies to address these pressures,” said Lewis-Flemming.