Proposed ER closure on hold

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Today’s statement by provincial health minister Eric Hoskins that there are no plans to close the emergency department at Sydenham District Hospital is a “temporary victory only,” according to Shirley Roebuck of the local chapter of the Ontario Health Coalition.

Roebuck was one of a half-dozen people who met with provincial officials this morning regarding the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance’s plans for health care in the northern portion of Chatham-Kent.

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“I’m very gratified to hear that the health minister and the premier have defended local health care but there is no guarantee that the CKHA won’t continue in its attack on health care in Wallaceburg,” she said.

Hoskins said, “I understand the concern that has been raised by the community about rumours about the potential closure of the emergency department at Sydenham District Hospital. And I want to assure the community that there are no plans whatsoever to close the hospital’s emergency department.

Hoskins added: “In addition, any proposals to alter the service level of the hospital would need to be approved by all members of the Alliance and the Erie St. Clair LHIN, and would require extensive community consultation and discussions with my ministry. ‎Neither the LHIN nor my ministry have received any such requests.”

A discussion of the Alliance’s plans is part of a meeting of the Sydenham District Hospital Board tomorrow night at the UAW hall in Wallaceburg at 5 p.m.

Infighting over the plan has led the boards of St. Joseph’s and Public General Hospital to split with that of Sydenham District Hospital and “suspend governance” of the Alliance.

Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition, called the move by the Chatham boards “bizarre.

“There is no place in legislation for this; it doesn’t exist. You just can’t suspend governance because you can’t get along. I’ve never seen anything like this anywhere across Ontario. It’s nonsensical.”

In response to local concerns, Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton has been raising the issue of Sydenham District Hospital at Queen’s Park.

“Monte and (NDP health critic) France Gélinas

have been extremely helpful in getting our message to the government, “ Roebuck said. “We’re glad to see the

the issue getting some public attention. We need all the people of Chatham-Kent to come together. We need a strong hospital in Chatham and a strong hospital in Wallaceburg. We need to demand more accountability for people doing everything from sitting on boards to doing housekeeping.”

She called on the CKHA to develop “a meaningful vision” for health care in the area. “Using one part of a community as a scapegoat isn’t what I would say is the ideal situation.”

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