With the results from community surveys last winter by the health coalition committees in Chatham and Wallaceburg-Wapole Island First Nation, people have helped effect change in the services offered by our local health care system.
That according to Chatham-Kent Health Coalition co-chair Shirley Roebuck. She said the survey results showed that people wanted health services in both Chatham and Wallaceburg, and the communities’ response to the survey helped the decision to keep and further upgrade services for the Wallaceburg campus of the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance.
“Without the public, there would have been a chance that the Wallaceburg hospital would be downsized further,” Roebuck said in an interview. “Our group was part of the campaign to save the Wallaceburg hospital and maintain services in Chatham. Even before we put out the survey, we met with politicians at Queen’s Park and were able to get our issues on their agenda.”
In a recent letter to Roebuck, Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins thanked the coalition committees for conducting the survey and forwarding the results to his ministry and the CKHA.
“Thank you for your dedication and commitment to the residents and communities across Chatham-Kent and Walpole Island First Nation. We look forward to your continued collaboration in the transformation of the local health-care system,” Hoskins said in his April 7 letter to Roebuck.
His letter also let Roebuck know about the new website set up by the CKHA (askckha.com) as a forum for public feedback and a place for the public to ask questions about the future direction of the hospital alliance. It also gives updates on what is happening in regards to restructuring and dates for “community engagement sessions” coming up.
Roebuck said there is still more work to be done.
“We can’t stop now. We need to ensure that Chatham-Kent has good, strong programs that serve our community and we plan to ask for more services in Wallaceburg, with a goal of servicing the population of Chatham-Kent in a better way.”
She said the two coalitions will be taking part in an Ontario Health Coalition campaign to warn the public about the danger of privatizing health care services. With the slogan, “We can’t bear to lose our health care,” a six-foot bear will be travelling the province to highlight the public’s concern.
“We will be hosting meetings in the future and encourage any community groups and organizations to come out to meet and explore progressive health-care reform,” Roebuck said. “We hope people will come out to give us ideas and any group who wants to prepare a brief or report to present to the board is welcome.”
She said, for example, with heart disease so prevalent in Chatham-Kent, the Heart and Stroke Foundation may want to make their needs known. The dates for the meeting will be publicized once details are finalized.