Following the news that provincial funding cuts to the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance may lead to closure of the emergency department at Sydenham District Hospital, residents in Wallaceburg vowed to do what many people believe they do best – put up a fight.
More than 100 residents attended a monthly meeting of the Sydenham District Hospital Board after a rumour spread through the community that one of the last real services offered at the hospital was about to be chopped.
Members of the hospital board urged residents to mobilize, contact provincial officials and express their displeasure that the future of emergency care is perilous at best.
To be successful, they will need to fill meetings, hold protests and rallies and appeal to everyone they believe has any influence.
Given their history, we don’t doubt they will.
Perhaps the larger question is, why should they have to?
There is something fundamentally wrong when residents have to go cap in hand (or protest signs in hand for that matter) to keep a fundamental level of health care they’ve had for decades.
Basic human decency should allow every Ontarian the right to health care in a timely manner. If anything, the province should be extending care to communities that don’t have it instead of taking it from those who need it.
Residents of Wallaceburg, Dresden, Walpole Island First Nations and St. Clair Township have all contributed to what was once a first-class rural hospital.
Time and neglect combined to make the structure obsolete. That doesn’t mean a level of health care isn’t needed.
Many among the crowd at the SDH meeting expressed the frustration of being middle-aged or older and living in a rural area.
Add the fact that they chose to elect provincial members from the “wrong” party, and they could be poster children for the disenfranchised. They don’t fit in Kathleen Wynne’s Ontario.
This needs to go beyond politics although it needs to start there.
It’s well past the time for the province to stop wasting billions of dollars on inefficient and costly health delivery systems.
The soon-to-be disbanded Community Care Access Centre ($2.5 billion annually) is having its duties given to the Local Health Integration Network ($68 billion each year).
Some of that savings needs to be invested in actual health care instead of paying high priced bureaucrats to tell us what we can’t have.
Changes in health care don’t mean you abandon the population while you “figure out” which direction you’re going next.
Competent managers keep existing structures in place while migrating service. They don’t knee-jerk from one crisis to the next.