Sunday, February 23, 2020

Renovations planned at Sydenham Campus in Wallaceburg

Lori Marshall, CKHA President and CEO, and Rob Devitt, CKHA Supervisor (Aaron Hall)

As part of some new master planning by the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, some renovations are being explored for the Sydenham Campus in Wallaceburg.

Boiler room work being planned in Wallaceburg

“I think the first thing we actually would like to do is to look at the power plant in Wallaceburg, because we recognize that the facilities that are there were built for a large facility, they are old, they are not very efficient,” said Lori Marshall, president and CEO of the CKHA, during a media update held in Chatham on Thursday morning.

“If we are going to make some changes to that building, eventually adding on some new programs and those sorts of things, then we really need a new and revised power plant. So that is one of the first things that we have worked towards submitting a proposal for.”

Marshall said the CKHA is engaging in a “refresh of a master plan and master programs” that was started a few years ago.

Jerome Quenneville, vice president and Chief Financial Officer at the CKHA, said the power plant at the Wallaceburg site is essentially the boiler room, plus the electrical and cooling system.

“All of those parts of the behind the scene stuff is really designed for the facility being used top to bottom,” he said.

“We have got the concentration of services on the main floor now, so the top two floors are not being used effectively. So we’re really trying to focus in our efforts at not only building a plant that can support the existing building, but than we can draw that into any new developments that come through to introduce new services or improve services for the community.”

Rob Devitt, the Ministry-appointed supervisor of the CKHA, said this is the logical place to start.

“As much as I would like, if it’s about photo opportunities and cutting ribbons, it would be nice to do something that is exciting,” he said.

“With Retro Fest this weekend, it is the perfect comparison. If you buy an old car or pull an old car out of the barn and restore it, you don’t start by doing the body and painting it. You actually start with the mechanical, the transmission and the electrical system. That’s what we are doing and then we will figure out what the right body is to put on the chassis and frame, but we won’t be driving the hospital down the street.”

Master plan refresh with a two-site model

Marshall reiterated that all the plans moving forward by the CKHA, include a two site model.

“We will continue to have two hospital sites, the Chatham and the Sydenham Campuses,” she said.

“Both of those organizations will continue to have the blue H on the top of the buildings, which means there will be 24/7 emergency department services there and some inpatient beds in both organizations. We look to grow and re-invest our services at both campuses as we look at our finances.”

“We are very invested in the future in terms of wanted to make sure that we have two sites,” Marshall said.

“So we recognize that in doing that, that we need to make sure that the physical facilities that we have are up to par and being able to provide the level of care that we all should expect as residents of Chatham-Kent. It’s a refresh because there is already some good data there. We know that our population growth for example hasn’t changed very much since the last time it was reviewed.”

Marshall said the CKHA will be working with the LHIN and the Ministry of Health to resubmit a revised master plan and master program.

She said the plans will identify what services will be offered at both campuses, including what is required from a physical facility perspective, along with renovations and changes.

“We do believe that the best approach for both of our campuses would be something that is a series of smaller projects over a number of years that will help us to move ahead and to be able to really create the facilities and keep up with the technology and equipment needs,” Marshall said.

Down the road, Quenneville said some mechanical work and some upgrades to the emergency room will be looked at for the Chatham campus.

Any plans would need to be approved by the province.

Previous CKHA plan was not affordable

Devitt said the CKHA did a major facility planning exercise, which had a price tag of $511 million for the Chatham campus alone.

“A project of that magnitude is simply unaffordable for the community. Probably unaffordable for the province and was probably doomed from the beginning,” Devitt said.

“Unfortunately that plan, which was developed maybe seven years ago, a Plan B didn’t emerge until about a year ago and than it was a complete swing of the pendulum the other way. Planning a thoughtful, methodical, step-by-step approach, that focuses on priority needs as well as the fiscal realities, is the right way to do it.”

Devitt said the new approach is similar to someone renovating their own home.

“If you don’t like your own house and you want to make changes, few people say ‘well we will just knock it down and build a brand new one’,” he said.

“Some can I suppose, but most people do it step-by-step, maybe a bathroom first, a kitchen, and then the basement. Well, that’s what we need to do with both of the sites. It is that same thoughtful approach.”

Devitt said unfortunately the gap of time between when that plan was first identified and now, has resulted in an absence of an ongoing investment in the fiscal plans.

“So in some ways we are kind of starting from a worse place, but we are also convinced from what we have seen so far that there is a planning solution out there,” he said.

“A trajectory that will allow us to do bite size chunks at both campuses that will allow us to refresh the facilities in a way that is affordable, is not disruptive to the delivery of service and can meet the communities own capacity to generate it’s share.”

Other items discussed on Thursday

– Acting on feedback, both internal and external, Marshall said she has moved her office away from the Emma Street administrative buildings, and into the actual hospital site. She said many of the senior staff will be doing the same.

– The CKHA launched a ‘WeRCKHA’ committee internally. It will include people from all across the organization, who will meet quarterly and provide recommendations for how the CKHA can improve.

– CKHA staff discussed the ongoing recovery plan, where a $2 million reduction to the line of credit was achieved. More details are available, here.

– The rural health advisory committee has been interviewed and the committee has been formed. There first meeting will be held in June.

– A mental health review was held at the CKHA in February. The CKHA will continue to work with the Canadian Mental Health Association moving froward. A posting will also be made for a director of women’s and children

– Devitt said there is no new information about a new governance structure for the CKHA. He said he has been going over literature, bylaws and studying the governance structures of the 40-plus hospitals from London and south.


– Photo credit: Aaron Hall

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