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Shirley Roebuck (Aaron Hall)

Having both the Wallaceburg and Chatham emergency rooms is vital to the community.

This is according to the results from a survey issued on Monday morning by the Wallaceburg-Walpole Island First Nation, Chatham-Kent, and the Ontario Health Coalition.

“We are very pleased with the results,” said Shirley Roebuck, chair of the Wallaceburg-Walpole Island First Nation and Chatham-Kent groups.

“We are not very surprised at what happened in Wallaceburg. Everyone supports the hospital. Everyone wants services restored in the hospital. They feel very strongly that we have access to a full service hospital in our community.”

Roebuck said the thing that pleased her the most was the responses from people who live in Chatham and south of Chatham.

“They all supported the Wallaceburg hospital,” she said.

“They want it kept open. They think their health care would worsen if in fact the Wallaceburg campus were to close. That is extremely encouraging because it makes me believe that the entire Municipality is behind what we have been saying all along and that is that we need two campuses. We need both hospitals and that’s our message going forward.”

In November and December 2016, the health coalitions conducted a survey to gather input on access and quality of local hospital care.

“We had 370 respondents from all over the Municipality,” Roebuck said.

“It is hard to get anyone to do anything in November and December so these people took the time to fill out these surveys and return them. Also many people filled out the online survey, which mirrored the paper copies.”

Roebuck said the health coalitions worked diligently this past November and December, asking people what they felt was good about health care in Chatham-Kent.

“What was lacking? Did they experience and gaps in care? What were the worst things about their care? What was the best things about the care? We also asked them what would they really like to tell the CEO and the the Interim CEO and the Minister of Health,” she said.

Roebuck said the results from the survey will be sent to the leadership of the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance.

“There will not be any confusion about what this community wants and that is two campuses of the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance,” she said.

“I know there has been press reports from Mr. Devitt about the monetary crunch that the Alliance in suffering right now. I think it is up to government to help the Municipality receive the health care that it needs and that does not come from statistical information from Toronto. That comes from the people that live here.”

Other results from the survey include:

– Need to improve wait times in Chatham. This was the second most frequent message respondents wanted relayed.

– Many people documented the need for increased staff at Chatham, noting staff were overburdened. Most frequently people wanted nursing staff increases and a stop to cuts.

– Respondents also wanted more physicians and other hospital staff.

– Many people wanted to send the message that services must be protected, citing diagnostics, acute care and other services. Some respondents from both Chatham and Wallaceburg areas wanted services restored that had been cut.

– Reduced parking costs or free parking were advocated by several respondents.

– The need for compassionate care for the elderly was a priority message from several respondents.

– Several respondents wanted to relay messages about the high quality of care that they had received.

– Several respondents wanted cuts in high salaries for executives.

Read the full survey results here.

The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance is holding a town hall/open house coming up in Wallaceburg.

The event is open to the public and will be held on Thursday, March 23 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Canadian Belgian Dutch Club.

This will be an opportunity for the community to personally meet the provincially-appointed supervisor, the new CEO and newly hired and appointed vice presidents and medical leadership team.

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