Chatham-Kent Health and Family Services General Manager Dr. April Rietdyk, December 14, 2015 (Photo by Jake Kislinsky)

CK Board of Health concerned about possible health care changes

The Chatham-Kent Board of Health is dissatisfied and concerned about proposed health care changes coming to Ontario.

General Manager of Community Human Services, Dr. April Rietdyk, said the changes will see 35 local public health boards reduced to 10 regional ones by 2021. Rietdyk told health board members at their meeting on Wednesday that “local is important.” She said cutting the provincial health budget by $200 million a year will affect health care services and programs.

“I have concerns as to moving to any type of regionalized system,” she said. “How we can ensure that those local community needs are met on an on-going basis?”

Rietdyk said the administration budget at the Chatham-Kent Health Unit is only 10 per cent of the overall health unit budget and wouldn’t comment if she thought a merger involving Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent was inevitable.

“Right now we are business as usual. We’re going to continue doing all of our programs and services, providing the best possible public health service to this community and we’ll continue to do that until somebody tells us to stop doing that,” she added.

Rietdyk said there is a lot of confusion around the provincial plan that must be cleared up.

“To get there faster in ending hallway medicine is to beef up and add resources to the public health system, not take those resources away,” Reitdyk said.

The proposed provincial changes would merge the 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) and six provincial health agencies, including Cancer Care Ontario and eHealth Ontario, into a “Super Agency.” The government of Ontario said consolidations in the health care system will result in better organization, better service delivery, and better recruiting as they try to end hallway health care in hospitals.