Time to listen

Mar 22 • Feature Story, ViewpointNo Comments on Time to listen

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Somewhere it is written that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.

It’s the hope of Chatham-Kent residents that the re-organization of the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance doesn’t fit that definition.

Interim President and CEO Ken Deane and provincially appointed supervisor Rob Devitt have made a number of changes within senior administration and the community is waiting to see what kind of board structure will be in place and how the Wallaceburg campus fits into the overall CKHA picture.

The Chatham-Kent Health Coalition recently circulated a survey and publicized the results, and while the main issues of lack of local services and long wait times weren’t surprising, the support of 98 per cent of the 370 respondents for a Wallaceburg hospital with an emergency room and restored services was.

When the people of Chatham and Wallaceburg agree on something, it is an occasion that should make the decision makers pause and think. While money to fund services is a huge factor for the CKHA, the make-up of the community and the services it wants and needs should be another one.

As the coalition co-chairs point out, Chatham-Kent is fashioning itself as an age-friendly community, but moving out entire departments such as urology does not jive well with an aging population. The services seniors want and need are in short supply locally and require driving to London, Windsor, Sarnia and sometimes Toronto.

When you are a senior with limited resources or family in the area, it creates a huge problem and lets some of our most vulnerable citizens fall through the cracks. And that definitely does not look good for people over 50 wanting to move to our area. Hot housing prices and an age-friendly designation can only take us so far.

The coalition survey gives legitimacy to the concerns many people have voiced with local health care, and also lets the CKHA know that there is support for services where people live.

The problem is still, and will probably remain funding from the federal government on down. The province is killing rural health care and until it learns what the term “local priority” means, we will be stuck with Toronto-centric problem solving that does nothing to meet the needs of the people of Chatham-Kent.

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