Sydenham District Hospital Board Chair Sheldon Parsons, April 19, 2016 (Photo by Jake Kislinsky)

Hospital Board To Begin Consultation On Health Care Plan

The board that governs the Sydenham District Hospital (SDH) has taken the first steps in attempting to achieve its vision of health care in the Wallaceburg community.

The SDH board held an in-camera meeting at the hospital on Wednesday, to gain input and discuss the board’s health care “vision” with other local health care providers.

The providers included the Lambton-Kent Canadian Mental Health Association, the Chatham-Kent Family Health Team, as well as the Chatham-Kent fire department and EMS.

The Sydenham board has also engaged an independent firm to review the proposed vision, and continue consultation with the health providers.

SDH Board Chair Sheldon Parsons says the meeting on Wednesday was just the beginning of the process, and there’s a lot of work that still needs to be done.

“We don’t have a polished plan, we don’t don’t have final product, we have a concept, and we think it’s a concept that has merritt ,” he says. “Therefore, we need to do the consultation that we’re required to do before we can complete it and start promoting it.”

The Chatham-Kent Community Health Centre was also invited to attend the meeting. However, according to Parsons, the health centre declined to attend as they had already partnered with the other two Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) boards on the 2016 Operational Capital Plan.

The board’s vision at the Wallaceburg hospital includes continuing to utilize a 24/7 emergency department, diagnostic and laboratory service, as well as a new facility to replace an aging building. The SDH Board Corporation voted to adopt the vision during a special members meeting on April 19.

“We believe that health care services are going to be delivered to the communities in a different way then they’ve been delivered in the past,” says Parsons. “We think there ought to be one door to many services, we ought to be co-locating, and we ought to be integrating the services to the very best that we can, because health care dollars are scarce.”

The CKHA, which is comprised of the SDH Board and two other boards, has a $1.8-million projected deficit for in 2015/2016 as a result of revenue shortfalls. The deficit is projected to reach $3.5-million in the next fiscal year.

All CKHA governance activities were suspended following a tri-board meeting on March 31, when the SDH board vetoed the operational capital plan that required unanimous support to move forward.

Parsons says the plan was rejected because it meant reduced hours and medical staffing at the Wallaceburg emergency department.

“We have a certain path and a plan to deliver health care to communities that make up the Sydenham-Walpole-St. Clair district,” he says. “That health care needs to be looked at from that perspective… We need to provide as much care as we care, as close to home as we can.”

Parsons says the SDH board has called another tri-board meeting for May 25, but does not expect the other two boards will attend.

Following consultation between the health care providers, Parsons hopes bring the SDH board’s finalized plan to members on June 23 during an annual meeting. The plan will then be presented to the tri-board for approval.

Like the operational capital plan, this new plan will need unanimous support from all three hospital boards before it can be implemented.