The main entrance sign at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance. (File photo by Jake Kislinsky)

CKHA gets $1.8M through provincial investment

A couple of local hospitals will be able to make some upgrades after receiving provincial dollars through an annual fund.

The province announced funding for 128 hospitals across Ontario on Tuesday. The $175 million investment announcement was made by Christine Elliott, the deputy premier and minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

“The health and safety of patients and families is a priority for our government,” said Elliott in a statement. “This funding will help ensure hospitals across Ontario are able to make the needed upgrades, improvements and maintenance so patients and families have access to reliable, quality care they expect and deserve.”

The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) will get $1,810,203 through the investment, which will be split between its Chatham and Wallaceburg sites.

“Our hospitals need upgrades, repairs, and maintenance. This funding will go a long way to improving care in Southwestern Ontario,” said MPP Monte McNaughton in a statement. “This is a big win for the region.”

CKHA President and CEO Lori Marshall said they are “delighted” by the funding announcement and have already specified which projects they’re going to work on for each facility.

The Wallaceburg location will get new windows along the west end of the building since the current windows have wooden frames that have not fared well against the elements. The CKHA will also be upgrading the PA system and conduct asbestos abatement in some areas of the hospital.

The Chatham location will see an upgrade to the fire alert system, a new dehumidification system for the operating room and a room that holds medical instruments, as well as floor replacement in the operating room.

“It is a fairly advanced floor system that we’re in the process of installing and it is specially designed for operating rooms,” said Jerome Quenneville, CKHA vice president and chief financial officer. “We can use intense cleaners on it, multiple times a day… it can stand up to that kind of process so it’s not your normal type of flooring.”

The upgrades to both hospitals are not expected to negatively affect patient care as the majority of the work is expected to take place during “down time”.

The CKHA is currently in the purchasing phase with the listed projects and is required to spend the funding investment by March 31. The provincial investment is coming out of the Health Infrastructure Renewal Fund, which Marshall said allows for annual investments to be handed out to Ontario’s hospitals and care facilities.

Although the $1.8 million does help, there is a long list of upgrades that still remain on the to-do list. Quenneville said air ventilation systems, elevators, and electrical systems are all areas they hope to one day improve.

“The [Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care] went through this past year and updated their records on the status of our building [after] looking at every piece of equipment,” said Quenneville. “[They] have prepared a long shopping list of areas where we could make investments. These [projects listed above] are the ones from a timing sensitivity risk perspective we felt were a higher priority to be able to address this year.”

Other nearby care facilities which have received funding include Four Counties Health Services Corporation, which is getting $596,410 and Strathroy Middlesex General Hospital, which is getting $3,273,458. Hospitals in Windsor-Essex are also getting financial help from the province.