Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, Sydenham Campus ER in Wallaceburg. (BlackburnNews.com file photo)

‘Irreconcilable’ Differences Cause Friction Between CKHA Boards

Two Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) boards are speaking out against the third as tensions rise regarding the future of Sydenham District Hospital (SDH) in Wallaceburg.

In a members meeting on Tuesday, the board representing the Wallaceburg hospital presented information from the CKHA 2016 Operational Capital Plan. The confidential report outlines suggested service changes at health alliance hospitals.

The report, which was made public by Wallaceburg Councillor Jeff Wesley, details plans for an emergency access centre at the Sydenham hospital that would mean reduced hours and medical staffing at the Wallaceburg emergency department.

Jane Havens, the acting board chair of the Public General Hospital Society, wouldn’t confirm details or comment on the contents of the report as it remains confidential, but says it is a sustainable plan for the future.

“It will improve quality and access for the entire community of Chatham-Kent and we certainly believe that is representative of the future of health care in this community,” she says.

On Tuesday during the meeting, SDH members voted to adopt a new and different vision, which included a 24/7 emergency department, diagnostic and laboratory service, as well as a facility that has room for expansion.

In a letter addressed to Chatham-Kent citizens on Friday, the other two health alliance boards, the Public General Hospital Society and St. Joseph s Health Services Association, say the SDH board’s “new vision” is anything but new.

The letter says the SDH board’s vision has already been submitted to the Ministry of Health and has remained unapproved for over four years. The letter also states the plan will cost over $75-million.

With a $1.8-million projected deficit for the CKHA in 2015/2016 as a result of revenue shortfalls, Havens accuses the SDH board of being self-serving, rather than looking at how issues face the Chatham-Kent community as a whole.

“Basically it’s gotten us to the point where we can’t function anymore,” she says. “You have to come to the table prepared to make decisions for the best of [Chatham-Kent] and not just for one community. When that stops happening, it means we are no longer on the same page and it’s simply impossible to move forward when you don’t have all of the partners on the same page.”

The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance’s deficit is projected to reach $3.5-million in the next fiscal year.

Havens says the two boards have been at odds with the SDH board for quite some time.

All CKHA governance activities were suspended following their tri-board meeting on March 31, when the SDH board vetoed the 2016 Operational Capital Plan that required unanimous support to move forward.

“They know what they want, they won’t budge from it, they won’t compromise,” says Havens.

She says the Wallaceburg hospital represents 5% of hospital-based activities, but the SDH board accounts for 33% of the total CKHA board structure.

Havens adds, at this time, there are no future meetings planned between the SDH board and the other two boards that govern the CKHA. She says their differences are “irreconcilable” at this point.

“We will do out best to move forward with a plan that represents the entire community of Chatham-Kent,” she says. “That’s our responsibility as board members and that’s what the community of Chatham-Kent would expect of us.”

Below you can find the complete letter the Public General Hospital Society and St. Joseph s Health Services Association sent to BlackburnNews.com.