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A new board of directors has been elected for the Sydenham District Hospital Corporation.

Re-elected this year at Thursday’s annual general meeting was Sheldon Parsons, Herb John, Kris Lee and George Lung. A newcomer to the board is Conrad Noel, the chair of the Save Our Sydenham committee.

Not returning this year are Wallaceburg Coun. Jeff Wesley, Gary Martin and William Steep.

Parsons said this was the year they reduced the number on the board from seven to five as part of a governance renewal program.

“The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance felt that the number of board members on the Alliance was too great at 21 with all the extra staff. They felt that they wanted to reduce that and work with a more manageable number so all the boards agreed to reduce the number to five. Our reduction was delayed because of the flurry of excitement a year ago at the end of the general meeting,” Parsons said.

Parsons said the membership heard a good report from staff and a lot of good questions were asked from the membership about what is happening with Wallaceburg’s hospital,

“Are we treated fairly within the Alliance and those kind of things. There is a general concern within the communities that are serviced by the Sydenham Campus that services are being removed, downsized and the building continues to need repair… a concern by the community that the Alliance isn’t taking enough care of the building and making sure that services are available to provide for the community,” Parsons said.

“Those kind of concerns came out during the questioning and our staff did very well in providing the answers.”

Parsons said a priority this year will be to get in the ear of the province about the future of Wallaceburg’s hospital.

“We need a replace and a rebuild for our Sydenham Campus,” Parsons said. “It’s been approved by the LHIN, so it’s sitting on the Minister’s desk and he has got a lot of requests from across the province for new builds and replacements. We need to make sure we are as high up in the queue as we can get because of the way the building is oversized for our current requirements and the fact that it’s fairly aged. It was built in 1959 and an addition in the mid-60’s. So it’s an old building and it continually needs renovation and upkeep. We certainly need a new build in the near future.”

Parsons added: “The province does not have a lot of money and they have a lot of requests from communities for the infrastructure dollars that they have. So our goal and priority this year is to make sure the province understands how current our requirement is and the fact that we need to be considered as soon as possible in their queuing system.”

The chair and vice chair for the board will be selected at the directors first meeting.