Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Pricey fight for H1N1

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THE fights against H1N1 flu will cost the Winnipeg Region Health Authority "tens of millions of dollars" not budgeted for in 2009-10, said the health authority's outgoing president, Brian Postl.

Money is being spent to expand intensive-care units and for buying equipment like ventilators, intravenous pumps, monitors, defibrillators and dialysis machines, he said.

Extra staffing has been needed for higher patient loads and more full intensive-care units. The WRHA expects the provincial government is going to help pay those costs. "I hope so," Postl said.

The increased expenditures follow on the heels of a $4-million deficit announced yesterday at the health authority's annual meeting. Postl said the deficit is from higher patient volumes than anticipated.

Salaries make up 73 per cent of WRHA costs.

Postl said the deficit amounts to less than one per cent of the WRHA's $2 billion budget.

"In many sectors, if your finances are within one per cent of your budget base, you're pretty successful," he said. The health authority's last deficit was four years ago.

Postl also commented on the seemingly healthy 13-year-old Toronto boy who died from H1N1 on Monday.

"That's why we keep telling people to get vaccinated. It's very unpredictable who's going to be severely affected. When it happens to young people it's especially tragic," he said.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 28, 2009 A6

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