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June 26, 2001

Debbie Neufert
Media Relations, LHSC
519-685-8500, ext. 74772

"24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 125 years of care" London Health Sciences Centre 2001 Annual General Meeting

(LONDON, Ontario) - In the face of enormous change and challenges, London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) is steadfast in its commitment to maintaining and improving upon its legacy of skilled and compassionate care, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

As the hospital reflects on this past year, it is clear there have been many accomplishments. Chief among them is the fact that under difficult financial circumstances, not only did the hospital manage to maintain and even exceed expected patient volumes, it also accommodated unexpected surges in demand. Most notable, of course, was the Walkerton crisis. "That is what this hospital is all about - providing quality patient care when people need it most ", says Tony Dagnone, LHSC President and CEO.

LHSC achieved recognition this year as an efficient hospital, and proved its ability to deliver high quality care at good value. The strong evidence is in a report by the Hay Group which looks at the clinical and operational efficiencies in our peer hospitals across Canada. As a result of operating efficiently, LHSC was awarded $2.9 million by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in late May 2001.

Many factors contributed to the hospital's achievements this year. Dagnone says, "The strong direction and leadership by our hospital Board of Directors was critical. So was the hard work and dedication of our physicians and staff who gave so much more than 100 per cent, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and the essential contributions of our more than 1,000 volunteers. The hospital's strong relationship with the Ministry of Health also helped to ensure success this year. Partnerships with St. Joseph's Health Care London (SJHC) and other health care providers also played a key role."

The hospital evaluates its operational and clinical efficiency and effectiveness in all areas of the hospital on a quarterly basis. Key indicators such as readmission rates are watched closely. Dagnone says, "We have always recognized the need to be accountable for the millions of dollars of taxpayers' money we receive every year. We are also deeply committed to continuous improvement of patient care". Dagnone adds, "All these measures are giving us good news about our performance. More importantly, they are helping us to identify areas where we can continue to improve."

For the first time since the merger in 1995, LHSC finished the year with a modest surplus of $5 million, which represents approximately one per cent of the operating budget.

Steady progress is being made on Restructuring Projects. This year the hospital accomplished a successful transfer of the Renal Program from SJHC to LHSC's new facility at Victoria Campus in March. Construction of new Emergency, Critical Care, and Surgery Departments at the Westminster and University sites are on schedule, and a new parking garage has also been completed at University Campus. A new MRI machine has been approved at the Westminster site and plans call for it to be in operation late this summer.

It has also been a successful year for research funding. The Lawson Health Research Institute (LHRI), a joint venture between the research arm of LHSC and SJHC, received grants totalling approximately $43 million. The most notable grant was $17 million to build a National Centre for Advanced Surgery and Robotics.

Change will continue to be an important theme for the hospital in the years ahead. "There is no doubt we have significant challenges ahead, however, I am confident that we have the expertise and commitment to make change positive, and ultimately create a better and stronger hospital," says Geoff Davies, LHSC Chair of the Board of Directors.

Dagnone says, "Over the next year, we will quite frankly, face some tough times. However, in three or four years, I can't help but be excited by what I see. Together, we are creating a modern, new hospital system to serve our community - one that will provide a satisfying, safe and comfortable work environment for staff, and a warm, healing environment for patients and their families. We are creating a hospital that will honour our legacy of 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 125 years of care."