Despite rumours, Aylmer Health Co-op is not closing
Breakdown in negotiations between Aylmer Health Co-op and physicians
Negotiations between the Aylmer Health Co-op board of directors and the physicians recently flatlined. Some of the 11 doctors even signaled their intention of leaving the co-op to open another office.
If certain physicians do leave the co-op they will take their patients with them. “We must not give the impression that patients will lose their physician if they decide to practice differently,” explained co-op president Valérie Dufour.
The breakdown in negotiations does not mean in any way the co-op is closing, indicated Dufour. “We clearly said [during the annual general meeting (AGM) on April 22] that the co-op wants to
reposition itself in the community and to consult its members and the community on its needs,” said Dufour. “Under no circumstances would the co-op start its year (following an AGM) by saying we are planning our closure. Rather, we are rather planning our future.”
The outlook for the co-op does look challenging with new rules and regulations ensuing from the adopt of Bill 10 and Bill 20 and subsequent changes to the local health agency. The former Centre de santé et de service sociaux (CSSS) in the region merged to form one large Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS). “There are many things to consider,” explained Dufour.
During an interview with the Bulletin Dufour remained tight-lipped about the three-month long negotiations but said both parties were looking to renew a decade-old agreement.
“Physicians were unwilling to renew the agreement with the overhaul currently taking place in the medical community,” noted Dufour. The agreement is still standing, but the co-op wants to ink a new one.When asked if the co-op was in jeopardy, the board president said it needs to take care of itself to face its ‘precarious’ financial reality.
“The way to face this is not by closing, but rather to try to find new revenue streams, new methods of treating patients,” continued Dufour.
One major revenue stream is crumbling. According to the co-op’s annual report, many members are not paying their dues which does not help balance the books. For several years the co-op has faced deficits, including last year’s $100,000 shortfall. One point on the table during negotiations was how to absorb losses.
The present agreement indicates that if the clinic has an operating deficit, the co-op covers the difference. This is weighing hard on the co-op. “In our negotiations we said it was a situation that should not continue and it’s one of the subjects we disagreed on,” said board president.
Dufour said residents and members should not panic even if it’s a time of turbulence for the Aylmer Health Co-op. “There wasn’t a tone of panic during the AGM and no one during the meeting saw this as an upcoming catastrophe.”
Changes to the Du Couvent co-op are to come up and the board is ready and willing to keep the population up to speed. One change that will not take place is the scheduled expansion.The board postponed the project because of the absence of an agreement with physicians.