WGHG has held its first ‘virtual’ online Annual General Meeting, reporting one of the most challenging years in the health services 112 year history.
WGHG Board Chair, Christine Holland, said the 2019-20 financial year began with operating theatre closures, a cyber-attack that crippled internet communications and then sadly the world was swept by COVID-19.
“The resilience of staff has been nothing short of outstanding, calmly addressing challenge after challenge and responding in a way which has maintained trust and confidence in our service. The support of the community has been equally remarkable, working with us through the difficulties and celebrating the successes.”
Highlights over the 12 month period included the opening of the Short Stay Unit to support the Emergency Department, a third Operating Theatre, upgrade of sterilisers, kitchen plant, nurse call bell and communications system and replacement of the public lift. A new driveway across the front of the hospital has created much needed additional car parking. The projects were funded from the Victorian Government and Department of Health & Human services (DHHS) recognise the importance of WGHG to our growing community.
Mrs Holland said demand for services continued, reflecting Baw Baw Shire’s growing population.
“The number of hospital inpatient admissions increased by 14% to just under 15,000 largely due to the commencement of the Short Stay Unit and expansion of the Haemodialysis Unit. For the first time in many years, the number of patients treated in the Emergency Department (ED) was less than the previous year. This was due to the impact that COVID-19 had in deterring many presentations during April to June when ‘stay at home’ restrictions were in place in Victoria. Prior to this, in March 2020, ED presentations were up 6%.
The number of births for the year was 879 – slightly below last year’s numbers as WGHG continued to keep numbers to a safe level. The elective surgery program was significantly impacted by the early closures caused by building works and then restrictions on surgery as part of the National and State response to COVID-19.
Presenting the financial report, Board Treasurer, Leanne Williams, WGHG reported an operating loss of $1.75m which reflected the budget.
“It was always going to be a challenge to manage activity within budget, particularly with the expected increases in capacity during the year as the Short Stay Unit and third theatre approached completion. Warragul Linen Service, an important business unit of WGHG, was also significantly impacted by COVID-19, with demand from key customers Monash Health and Alfred Health well down.
“While there were significant expenses (almost $1 million in 2019-20) in responding to COVID-19, this was offset by a COVID-19 funding grant.”
Revenue for the year was $126m up 6.7% on the previous year with operating expenditure of $123.25m, up 5%.
“Looking forward, WGHG will continue to focus closely on diligent cash and liquidity management, especially in the uncertain COVID-19 era.”
The AGM announced two Life Governships to be awarded to long serving paediatrician Dr Charlie Hamilton and former Director of Clinical Operations Kathy Kinrade who retired from WGHG last year.
The AGM also recognised 56 staff members for long service awards from 15 years to 40 years. Three volunteers were awarded medals for achieving ten years of service each.
Chief Executive Officer, Dan Weeks, said WGHG would like to thank its generous community for the $1.17 million in donations received during the financial year. This funding enabled the Group to purchase medical equipment not covered by government funding.
“None of what we have achieved throughout the year would have been possible without the outstanding contribution of our Board, executive team, staff, contractors, volunteers, auxiliaries and our donors.”
The West Gippsland Healthcare Group Annual Report and Quality Account are available on this website under the Publications tab.