A balanced budget, more social media presence and making plans for the future.

These are some of the highlights Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare Board Chair Evelyn Brown is feeling good about as 2017 wraps up.

At the end of MAHC’s last fiscal year in March, Brown says a $2.3 million one-time investment from the province helped with a major deficit the organization was facing.

However, in a previous interview with the MyMuskokaNow Newsroom MAHC CEO Natalie Bubela said the rising costs of hydro, labour, drugs and other supplies the organization may be seeing an even larger deficit at the end of this fiscal year in March.

Looking ahead, MAHC wants to have a solid plan in place for the future of its hospitals and it was recently given $1 million by the province to build that plan. This could include keeping both hospital sites running with their current health care services or designating inpatient and outpatient services at each site. MAHC is also considering the possibility of moving its healthcare services into one hospital in Muskoka. In October, MAHC created the Capital Plan Development Task Force. The committee, made up of doctors, healthcare experts, municipal officials and community members, is creating a report to help MAHC decide on the best site plan.

While no decisions have been made yet, Brown says they may have a final plan in place in 2018.

Chief Executive of Diagnostics, Ambulatory and Planning Harold Featherston recently reported to the MyMuskokaNow Newsroom that the model decision could come as early as the spring. This will allow MAHC to approach the province in the fall to ask for funding for the future plan.

Brown says she and the board are very proud of the work MAHC officials have done to build more public outreach by using social media. The MAHC Facebook page was created in April and it currently has over 400 followers. Brown says MAHC will continue to utilize its Facebook page in 2018 to reach more year-round and seasonal residents.

Brown says she has to give thanks to all the staff and volunteers that had a hand in keeping up healthcare services in Muskoka.

She says there has been some amazing fundraising work from both the Huntsville and South Muskoka Hospital Auxiliaries and Foundations to bring in equipment like new wheelchairs, a new kitchen oven, and a digital imaging equipment.

Brown says 2018 holds a lot of challenges and promising announcements, but she feels everyone with MAHC is ready to face the New Year with a positive outlook.

Previous stories:

MAHC will be looking for more public feedback before making hospital site decisions

MAHC is offering more insight into upcoming healthcare changes

District of Muskoka CAO joins MAHC healthcare planning task force

MAHC gets $1 million to start planning a new healthcare model for Muskoka