Members of the former Sydenham District Hospital board are ecstatic with the $7.3-million provincial boost announced for Wallaceburg’s hospital.

Sheldon Parsons

Sheldon Parsons told reporters on Saturday following the announcement he is filled with gratitude and appreciation.

“It has been a rough road,” Parsons said.

“But at the end of the day when you count what your results are… an interest in developing this site, maintaining a 24-7 emergency department, those were the goals the community had through the troubled times. Coming at the end of it, those are the goals we’re going to get. You have to be very appreciative of the process and where we ended up.”

The former SDH chair had nothing but praise for the community.

“We wouldn’t be here if the community didn’t say ‘we want a hospital’,” Parsons said.

“The signs that originally were developed thorough the SOS movement… we built it, we planned it, we paid for it, we’re keeping it… that was the theme and the trend that we followed. This has been a community goal. It was a principle that the community rallied around and said that this is important to us and we’re going to do whatever we can to protect it.”

Parsons said money needs to continuously be invested into the facility and there are many steps remaining in the process.

“It is aging infrastructure that needs to be replaced,” he said.

“Our focus and our support now needs to be what can we do to stay forward. History is history. There were some painful steps that needed to be taken, but that is behind us. What is ahead of us is good news. It makes me very grateful.”

Parsons added: “I’m very proud of this community for standing up for its principles and for standing up for what it wanted. It never gave up, it never got discouraged and because of that we were able to out of the other end of this with success and with some good things happening.”

Herb John

Herb John, a former SDH board member, told the Sydenham Current that the community made a huge impact.

“The community needs to hear that the efforts they made to attend meetings, fund raisers, signing petitions, attending demonstrations, calling elected officials, joining the hospital board and many other actions made a fundamental difference in the results we are celebrating today,” he said.

“In fact without the efforts of everyone in the community the hospital would have closed a couple years ago and today would not have contained such a wonderful announcement.”

John added: “There is still time to recognize that this community has worked very hard for many years with extreme determination to create the awareness and political will required to act on providing a future for the SDH. The SOS and former board were demonstrations of this community spirit and determination.”

Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) officials say they have received approval for the Replacement Power Plant Project from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to replace essential infrastructure at the Wallaceburg site with a total project cost estimated at $8 million dollars.

Hospital officials say the province’s grant of up to $7.3 million funding will go towards the construction of a new power plant to replace aging equipment with new boilers, generators and electrical distribution equipment.

The balance of the project cost will be funded through hospital funds allocated for investment in this project.

For more on the announcement, click here.