With rehabilitation not being an option, the Sydenham District Hospital (SDH) Corporation is looking into alternative solutions to build a brand new hospital in Wallaceburg.
Sheldon Parsons, chair of the SDH board of directors, said the board is concerned that the hospital building will not last until the $77M !magine project actually becomes a reality.
“We learned some things on the tour that was conducted early in August and then the board did a full tour of the building in September,” Parsons said. “We learned some things about the building that just means it will not be able to be renovated or repaired, but we need a new facility.”
“Parsons added: “This is what the !magine project is all about. The problem is the timeline. As you may know, the previous board was concerned about whether or not the building would last. Whether or not we would be told before we had a new building in place, that the old building was no longer safe or wouldn’t meet code or standards.”
Parsons said the SDH board began the process of rethinking the !magine Project.
“We wanted to make sure the members and directly the community was aware of these concerns and the fact that we may need to take a different route than the one that was set out in the !magine Project,” he said. “That was approved three years ago and we have got zero response from the Ministry of Health on that application. We were starting to get concerned and we felt the community should know that we going to start looking at different options.”
Parsons said the SDH board has learned there is a second program available, up to a maximum of $10 million, from the Ministry of Health.
“If that fit our needs… it might be a shorter route than the !magine Project,” Parsons said. We have “some concern whether or not the community would be able to foot its share of the bill, and we are talking 20 to 25% of the total cost has to be funded by the local community. That was an issue for us. We felt that given the fact that only utilizing 25% of the building, we really needed to think of what kinds of things we could be looking at to continue health care services but from a much smaller size building that would be more suited to the services that continue to be provided.”
Parsons said the next steps is to wait for a further report from Chatham-Kent Health Alliance staff, architects and the engineers to see what a $10 million project would look like.
“Would it continue to provide the services that we need in this community and whether or not that would be a viable option for us to pursue,” Parsons said. “We want to get that information back. We promise to get that information back to the membership so that they can be fully aware, fully informed of the steps that we are taking and the direction we want to proceed in.”
Parsons said he is urging continued support from the community moving forward.
“To ensure that the political people understand the urgency of moving in a different direction, rather than trying to repair the building,” he said. “We have reports from our staff that if we wanted to occupy the building for another five years, it’s $2 million minimum in repairs. If we wanted to occupy the build beyond five years that is where the $10 million figure pops up.”
Parsons added: “It is a different $10 million. That $10 million is just repair and renovations. The $10 million that we are looking at is for a new build. That of course requires partnerships so we are reaching out to other health care providers to see whether there is opportunity to share space, to collaborate with other health care services to ensure we are providing the most efficient and effective health care service that we can.”
Parsons said, even with only 25% of the Sydenham Campus being occupied, there are still essential services being delivered.
“I think a lot of the people in the community think there is an emergency department and nothing else,” he said. “There are actually a number of services being provided. Some are part time. One or two days a week but the services continue to be provided in the building there where we can justify the expense of providing these local services. Services are still there. Certainly not what it use to be, but at least there are continuing services beyond the emergency department.”
Parsons said CKHA staff told the SDH board at an Oct. 28 corporate membership meeting, that a report can be expected by early 2016.