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KFL&A board of health votes in favour of merging local public health units

On Wednesday, the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington (KFLA) board of health voted in favour of merging the unit with that of Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) and Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit (LGLDHU) to create the South East Health Unit.

The three nearby public health units decided to explore what the impacts of a merger would be after the Ontario Ministry of Health offered one-time funding and supports for local health agencies who would be willing to merge voluntarily.

The consulting firm Sense and Nous prepared a feasibility study which looked at the pros and cons of a merger, with a focus on how it would impact the ability to deliver services to all communities that fall in the proposed catchment area, as well a business case looking at opportunities to strengthen public health services and supports needed for a merger.

Dr. Piotr Oglaza, Medical Officer of Health and CEO of KFL&A Public Health, says there’s already a long standing history of collaboration between these three units and a merger would bring them under one umbrella, opening opportunities like planning service delivery jointly.

He says a merger shouldn’t greatly alter the services KFLA Public Health provides locally to the community it already serves.

“While we will be operating under one organizational umbrella covering a larger region, service delivery will still have to happen locally,” Dr. Oglaza said.

“There will be relevant communications coming under one organizational umbrella… but [I’m] not anticipating
a significant change in how we operate because our operations are still described under the Ontario Public Standards Act.”

While there could be cost efficiencies with merging the units, Dr. Oglaza says that’s not the primary intent, and savings will be reinvested into services.

“This is primarily driven by the issue of capacity and improvement of how we can deliver services,” Dr. Oglaza said.

“So if there are efficiencies and ways how we can do things more cost effectively than intended… the commitment from the province is any of these savings will be reinvested back into the service delivery.”

The Leeds, Grenville, and Lanark Board of Health will vote on the merger today, after KFLA and HPEPH each voted in favour of the merger.

The next step will be the units jointly sending the business case ahead of the April 2 deadline, with the expectation of seeing approval by the summer.

If all goes according to plan, the merger will be made official on January 1, 2025.

Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporterhttp://ygknews.ca
Born and raised in Whitby, Ontario, Owen has been living in Kingston for about three years after starting the band Willy Nilly. Prior to that he worked at CKLB radio in Yellowknife and completed studies in Niagara College's Broadcasting program.

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