Sir: Chatham Kent Health Alliance has been in the news lately.
The press has done articles about the monies for upgrades, repairs and renovations for hospitals in the Erie-St. Clair LHIN; these were monies that were announced in the provincial budget, and were much needed.
The monies came from specific funds at the Ministry of Health, and are not part of hospitals’ day-to-day operations, for which no extra funds were announced.
Secondly, the Chatham Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) announced that due to an existing budget deficit within its operating budget, bed cuts and staff lay offs would take place; the provincial government policies state that every Ontario hospital submit a balanced budget. Some 12 full-time RNs and several part time RNs would be eliminated, and beds would be cut.
Last December, the Wallaceburg-WIFN Health Coalition and the Chatham-Kent Health Coalition, along with the Ontario Health Coalition, conducted a survey of residents of Chatham-Kent, asking about pros and cons of local health care, and what they would like to see.
The results of our survey revealed that the people of Chatham Kent wanted two hospitals and two ERs. The results also showed that ER wait times, as well as wait times for an admission bed were top problems. People also noted the need for increased nurses.
Rob Devitt, the appointed supervisor of the CKHA, told me that our results mirrored research data that the CKHA had collected.
Thus, the decision to balance the budget through bed cuts and staff lay offs makes no sense. CKHA has deleted some 20 management positions. The Ministry of Health and Dr. Eric Hoskins, the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, stepped in last year to help CKHA work through a myriad of negative issues. Many changes have been made, but the ministry’s job is not done.
The monies that would be saved through bed cuts and lay offs would be better spent by keeping all beds open and allow admissions from any service to use them.
Keeping RNs can only result in improved patient outcomes, as research has repeatedly shown. These actions would help to alleviate the excessive wait times that presently exist.
By increasing the budget of the CKHA, the ministry would then be seen as working with the community to rectify the CKHA problems identified by the residents of Chatham-Kent.
In April, Dr. Hoskins wrote to the Chatham-Kent Health Coalition and to the Wallaceburg-WIFN Health Coalition, stating, “It is important that we continue to receive feedback regarding the health-care needs of Chatham-Kent residents and we appreciate the time you have taken to conduct the survey. The findings of the survey will be used to inform the developments occurring at the Chatham Kent Health Alliance.”
To date, the minister has been truthful in his dealings with CKHA; we hope that this continues. CKHA needs those beds, and those nurses to better serve the people of Chatham-Kent. Please contact your local MPPs (firstname.lastname@example.org ) (email@example.com), the Minister of Health (firstname.lastname@example.org ) and the premier (email@example.com), to tell them Chatham-Kent needs all of our beds and nurses.
Chair, W-WIFN HC,
Co-Chair of the CKHC