Issues concerning the way in which the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance conducted its handling of the Sydenham District Hospital emergency issue are raising concerns federally and provincially.
Lambton-Kent-Essex MP Bev Shipley has asked the province to put a hold on Chatham-Kent Health Alliance plans to pull out of the Alliance agreement with Wallaceburg.
Shipley, Friday, directed a personal letter to Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins saying the CKHA’s plan to pull out of the Alliance “appears to be the immediate culmination of aggressive and hostile decisions, to the detriment of the healthcare needs of my constituents, which have been precipitated by the Board and CKHA senior administrative staff over the past couple of months.”
The MP is asking Hoskins to review the issue and believes the “health and wellbeing of Wallaceburg, Walpole Island First Nation and area residents are profoundly compromised by the actions of the CKHA.”
He asks the minister to “prohibit the CKHA from any action which would compromise the health of my constituents relative to services provided by SDH” until operational funding is restored to allow it to proceed with an alternative plan for health care delivery and issues regarding asset division are completed.
In other developments, the SDH board of directors is seeking an independent investigation into data and methods used by the CKHA to justify its position regarding closing the ER.
“We raised questions about the data and statistics which remain unanswered by the CKHA leadership,” said board chair Sheldon Parsons.
Parsons said claims by the CKHA that it has “robust” discussions with physicians aren’t borne out by a confidential survey done with ER physicians.
He said “feedback from physicians indicated that some were fearful for their job security and reprisals should they participate in the consultation” but those who did respond raised enough concern about the process that it requires someone from outside the CKHA or SDH boards to review the situation.
“We requested assistance from the CKHA in reaching out to ER physicians which was not provided, the CKHA staff was not permitted to take part but what we did receive was of enough concern that we think an outside group needs to look at this entire procedure.”
Last week, Lambton-Kent-Essex MPP Monte McNaughton sent his own letter to Hoskins about the CKHA’s lack of comment on praise for SDH emergency services.
McNaughton called it “unfortunate” that congratulations were never passed on to staff or the public.
“In light of recent statements made about the quality of care at the CKHA Sydenham campus, it is unfortunate that this official recognition by your ministry should have gone unnoticed,” he wrote.
McNaughton said prior to question period, he spoke with Hoskins regarding the suspension of governance by the Chatham boards of the CKHA, personnel changes at the Erie-St. Clair Local Health Integration Network and other issues.
“Minister Hoskins is up to speed on what’s been happening in this area,” he said. “He doesn’t have a formal update but the issue remains important.”
McNaughton also noted in his letter, “I take comfort in your several assurances that there is no plan to close the SDH Emergency Department and that you agree that a twenty-four hour – seven days a week, fully functional emergency department in Wallaceburg must be kept open.”
McNaughton joined his federal counterpart MP Bev Shipley in reading the letter in the legislature.
“This is a subject that needs to be on the record as much as possible,” he said. “We need transparency in delivery of all government services, including health care.”
He said the recent province-wide referendum on health care spending in which more than 94,000 Ontarians participated further strengthens his opinion that it’s time for a change in health care structure.