Prognosis good for ailing health centre


PUVIRNITUQ— Puvirnituq’s Inuulitsivik Health Centre, which teetered on the edge of bankruptcy last year, is out of financial danger and on the road to recovery.

In fact, the beleaguered health centre should be free of all debt within five years, Jean-Guy Dugré, the health centre’s new director of administrative services, predicts.

“I think there’s hope,” Dugré said.

Inuulitsivik, which oversees a 25-bed hospital in Puvirnituq as well as health and social services centres in seven communities along Nunavik’s Hudson Bay coast, had run up a deficit of nearly $2 million by the end of last year.

The health centre’s budget hasn’t left Dugré much room to maneuver. Out of a $21-million budget, $13 million will go toward salaries.

The remaining $8 million will pay for everything else, including heat and fuel, expenses that are hard to trim.

Dugré said the medical staff at the centre needn’t worry about cuts to benefits, though.

“You can’t cut their benefits at the same time that you’re looking for personnel,” he said. “They won’t come.”

Dugré has managed to cut some non-essential expenses, such as long distance telephone calls, by as much as 40 per cent.

Dugré has come up with other ways to save money: he increased the amount of goods ordered by sealift and has streamlined their distribution to Hudson Bay communities. The new director said he will insist on more control over the quality of building maintenance and construction work.

Quebec still needs to spend more money on medical and social services along the Hudson Bay coast, Dugré reckons.

Transportation of patients and staff between Puvirnituq and Montreal via Air Inuit now costs $2,200 per person, he said.

The new director would also like to see the Puvirnituq hospital enlarged to accomodate a larger clientele.

But while the government is closing hospitals in southern Quebec, it’s going to be tough to convince Quebec City to provide more money to Inuulitsivik.

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