By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The revitalization of Wallaceburg’s hospital has taken another step forward.
March 2 marked the official opening of the site’s new “medical day care” that’s already providing a host of outpatient treatment services to local patients.
Bright and airy, the space houses big comfy chairs where patients can relax and receive treatments such as blood product transfusions, phlebotomy blood draw procedures and other minor procedures.
The unit is equipped with two modern treatment rooms for privacy and there’s a third treatment room with a washroom that will eventually be used for urology clinics.
The medical day care space is already being put to good use. According to Dr. Pervez Faruqi, Chief of Staff at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, some 1,500 patient visits have been made at the site since the end of 2021.
The site’s Rapid Access to Addiction Medicine (RAAM) clinic has had 346 visits in the same time frame, even though it’s only open one day a week.
Faruqi said the medical day care typically services oncology patients, obstetric patients and patients referred by a family physician. Minor surgical procedures that don’t require anesthetic will be performed there.
“We are pleased to open this updated and modern space which will enhance the delivery of safe, high-quality care at the site,” the doctor told the gathering of dignitaries.
George Vieira, who received an infusion treatment just prior to the ribbon cutting, is one patient who is grateful for the medical day care service provided at Wallaceburg.
In 2020, the former CKPS officer suffered a blood clot that led him to be hospitalized for five months. Since that time, the Chatham resident has relied on CKHA’s outpatient services and has received treatment at the Wallaceburg site many times.
“I think people in Chatham-Kent need to realize how lucky we are,” Vieira told the crowd. “I mean, we’re a big municipality. We’re very lucky to have two campuses that we can utilize.”
The retiree said many people in Ontario have to drive a long way to get to a hospital, which is not the case in Chatham-Kent.
The revamp of the original hospital’s former cafeteria into the medical day care was made possible through the Ontario government’s Health Infrastructure Renewal Fund. A total of $780,000 was invested in the Wallaceburg Campus over the past two years to create the medical day care space, a medication room and a physician space.
Significant asbestos abatement was required prior to the construction and repurposing of the space.
CKHA president and CEO Lori Marshall said the opening reaffirms the organization’s mission of “one team – two sites: serving Chatham and rural Kent.
“We are another step closer in our journey to redeveloping this site to serve the surrounding community and we are pleased with the progress made thus far,” Marshall said.
In order to meet the health-care needs of the community in the future, CKHA has assembled a comprehensive redevelopment plan that will see a new and modern facility. It will be anchored by a 24-7 emergency room; six medicine beds, including one palliative care bed; and diagnostic imaging, including X-ray and ultrasound and laboratory services.
Marshall said next steps include community input, which can be accessed online at OurHospitalOurFuture.com.
Officials attending the ceremony lauded the determination of the community to retain the hospital and Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton was singled out for his efforts to keep the hospital in Wallaceburg.