Wallaceburg Councillor Jeff Wesley and MPP Monte McNaughton among the crowd at the Sydenham District Hospital Member's Meeting, April 19, 2016 (Photo by Jake Kislinsky)

Sydenham Hospital Members Unite Against Potential Cuts

Some details have been released on what the CKHA initially planned to do with the Sydenham District Hospital (SDH) emergency room.

During the SDH’s Member’s meeting Tuesday, Wallaceburg Councillor Jeff Wesley brought a report given to him by Chief Daniel Miskokomon of Walpole Island, who had been able to secure a copy. It is supposedly the report the SDH Board vetoed at the March 31 tri-board meeting, regarding service changes for the CKHA and SDH.

He says the report details an “emergency access centre” for the hospital, which would mean reduced hours and medical staffing at the Wallaceburg emergency department. This comes after rumours that the future of the SDH’s ER was in jeopardy.

“It was by no means an emergency centre,” says fellow Wallaceburg Councillor Carmen McGregor. “It would have meant the 24/7 service gone, the contact of having a doctor there to deal with that would be gone.”

Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins has indicated there are no plans to close Wallaceburg’s emergency room, but the CKHA has yet to have discussions on the matter with the Ministry of Health.

SDH Board Chair Sheldon Parsons wouldn’t comment on the contents of the report, but says reduced funding has led to quick fixes in the past.

“The solution has always been thought to be, if you get leaner and meaner, reduce services and centralize them, then you’ll manage that cost,” says Parsons. “We don’t believe that’s good healthcare for the communities.”

CKHA CEO Colin Patey answered some questions from the members at Tuesday’s meeting. He says the report was prepared with consultation from clinicians, and the CKHA can only do so much with the government funding they’ve received.

“I have a budget I need to balance. I can’t print the money, but if you want to challenge the government on how it funds small rural hospitals, and how it funds this area, please do,” Patey said during question period.

On Tuesday, SDH members voted to adopt a new vision. Among the points of the vision are a 24/7 emergency department, diagnostic and laboratory services and a facility that has room for expansion, at a location to be determined.

They’ll be working with the LHIN and other healthcare groups to form what they say is a “collaborative partnership.”