Health Coalition Joins OB Fight

The planned closure of the obstetrics ward at Leamington District Memorial Hospital brings many residents to a public forum on October 29, 2014. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

The Ontario Health Coalition wants to help build the campaign to keep Leamington’s obstetrics unit open.

The Erie St.Clair LHIN put the March 31 closure on hold while an expert panel reviews the decision by the board of directors at Leamington District Memorial Hospital.

The coalition is holding a public meeting at 7pm Tuesday at Leamington District Secondary School to discuss the closure and plan a campaign to keep it open. Leamington’s mayor, town councillors, members of the LHIN board of directors and hospital officials are invited, but Executive Director Natalie Mehra says it’s key the public come out in force.

“Even if you’re not an expectant mother, or a family about to have children, if you care about the future of the hospital in Leamington, it’s in your interest to come,” says Mehra. “Often for smaller community hospitals, it becomes this kind of a vicious cycle. They start by removing really important services like birthing, then the next thing they close is the emergency department, or they close vital surgical services.”

Mehra says birthing services at small town hospitals are under attack across the province and the decision to close obstetrics services in Leamington may contravene the Canada Health Act.

“Health care is supposed to be based on need. We pay for it ahead of time through our taxes. They’re supposed to be there when we need them,” she says. “This decision was based on whether the service was profitable, on a set of criteria by a private consulting company that makes money from going around the province doing this kind of thing.”