The North Simcoe Hospital Alliance (NSHA) entered 2010 with a 1.6-million deficit and a dramatic cost-cutting plan. This plan included the elimination of outpatient physiotherapy and occupational therapy programs, and the outsourcing of these services to community-based providers.
It is unavoidable that this change will make physiotherapy less affordable and less convenient for many patients. Because physiotherapy is not regularly included in standard medical insurance, many patients will not pursue private therapy. As expressed by one patient, Helen Kremser, “It’s an absolute crime they’re going to close such a wonderful institution. To see this change because they’d like to get this off their books and leave it to private concerns – I don’t think this is right.”
However, we should not be too critical of the decision. The reality is that the majority of Ontario hospitals stopped outpatient services a decade ago. Although unfortunate, the closing of the NSHA’s outpatient therapy services will be a key step in reducing the organization’s large deficit.