Sunday, October 17, 2021

Doubts arising about Wallaceburg’s ER future

wallaceburg ER

The future of the emergency room at Wallaceburg’s hospital has once again come into question.

The chair of the Sydenham District Hospital board says a “high level” report will be presented to members on Wednesday, while the chair of a local hospital advocacy group fears the ER is set to be closed.

Health Coalition concerned

Shirley Roebuck, chair of the Chatham-Kent Health Coalition, says she thinks the closure of the ER at the Sydenham Campus will be announced at Wednesday’s meeting at the UAW Hall.

“I think they are going to announce that because of budget deficits, they are going to change the emergency department into an urgent care facility,” Roebuck told the Sydenham Current. “That means we’re closing a 24/7, full servicing emergency room and what are we getting in return… a glorified walk-in clinic.”

Along with various conversations she has had, Roebuck said her claims are based on comments made by Sheldon Parsons, chair of the Sydenham District Hospital board, in the Wallaceburg Courier Press.

High level report being presented

Parsons told the Sydenham Current he doesn’t plan on addressing Roebuck’s comments. However, he said a presentation is being made at Wednesday’s meeting.

“What we are providing is a high level report to our members, which is going to indicate that we have a significant deficit to overcome,” Parsons said.

“We need to adjust our services and our expenses to bring ourselves into line with the revenues we are provided… we can’t run deficits. We have a requirement to do that. We’re in the process of determining what that is going to look like… what impact that will have on services across Chatham-Kent.”

Parsons added: “Certainly the membership is aware and the community should be aware that we are working on a replacement building, to replace what we’ve got at the hospital building itself. That building is past its useful life. We need to do something else to provide those services and find a different location to provide those services from. Again, we’re providing a high level report on what the deficit looks like and the steps we need to take in order to keep our operations in line. That is the information we want to share with the membership.”

The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) forecasted a total year end deficit of $1.8 million… this comes after the CKHA was told they would be getting $2.5 million less than what they were expecting from the province this year.

“This creates a lot of problems for us,” Parsons said. “We have a responsibility to maintain our operation in a balanced budget realm and because of that we need to make some changes to the services that we provide.”

Parsons said CKHA staff have been busy looking at what they can do to bring their expenses into line with their revenues.

“We don’t even yet know all of the details,” Parsons said. “Staff are working on business cases still. We will have a high level presentation to the members, and we’ll follow that up in April where we will provide more detail about what we’re facing and what we need to move on.”

Parsons said he expects to hear more about the details within the next couple of weeks.

“The province is very anxious to see communities collaborate with healthcare partners and because of that we may be looking at a co-location for facilities as opposed to a stand alone. A co-mingling of services so there is no duplication of effort and ensuring we are maximizing the services that are provided to the community. All of that is going to be built-in to the solution that we bring forward.”

Negative affect from potential ER closure

Roebuck said closing the ER in Wallaceburg would have many negative consequences.

“All ambulances will bypass an urgent care and go on to emergency,” she said.

“I think people are going to have longer waits for care. I believe the Chatham ER will be overwhelmed… that emergency has to close themselves to ambulances several times per week as it is. To increase the number of ambulances going there, it is going to be pretty bad.”

Roebuck added: “I believe it will negatively affect the farming community, with them being in outlying areas and it will be a longer trip to an emergency room. I believe Walpole Island First Nation is not well-served by just having an urgent care centre, they really deserve, as does the town of Wallaceburg, an emergency room. I think our whole community deserves a vibrant, local hospital that can take care of the communities needs.”

Roebuck added she wants to see the Sydenham District Hospital board “stop supporting plans” given to them by Chatham-Kent Health Alliance and the Local Health Integration Network, and to “represent the people of Wallaceburg.

“I believe this is a decision made solely on cost saving and not on patient care,” she said.

MPP questions Minister of Health

Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton brought the issue forward during question period at Queen’s Park on Monday.

“Over the last week, people in Wallaceburg and throughout Chatham-Kent have told me that they are worried about the future of the Sydenham District Hospital’s emergency department,” McNaughton said.

See the video of McNaughton’s exchange with Ontario’s Minister of Health, Eric Hoskins:

Wallaceburg councillor support ER staying in Wallaceburg

Wallaceburg Coun. Jeff Wesley, a long-time advocate for healthcare services in Wallaceburg, said he plans on being in attendance for the Wednesday meeting.

“If there is any indication that our life saving emergency department will be affected, I will be extremely upset and will not accept that,” Wesley told the Sydenham Current.

“Lots of places for the CKHA bureaucrats to cut before they touch our life saving ER. The SDH Board better stand up for Wallaceburg as well.”

Meeting is open to the public

Parsons said Conrad Noel, the vice-chair of the Sydenham District Hospital board, will be chairing Wednesday’s meeting and he will be receiving staff support from Colin Patey, CEO of the CKHA, and Sarah Padfield, VP and CFO for the CKHA.

Parsons said the meeting will start at 5 p.m. at the UAW Hall in Wallaceburg and is open to anyone in the public.

He said membership forms will be available at the meeting as well.

Watch for more on this story.


  1. CKHA Sydenham Campus’s emergency department services people of Port Lambton, Sombra, Wilkesport, Rutherford, Dresden, Wallaceburg, Walpole Island and a very large rural population. In total about 30, 000 residents of South Lambton, Walpole Island and Chatham Kent. Persons suffering critical life threatening emergencies will quiet frankly die before they make it by ambulance to the next closest Emergency Department in Sarnia or Chatham. Along with these communities loosing an Emergency Department these communities are loosing a helipad that in a vital link to specialized emergency care in London and Windsor for trauma patients and the critically ill. It will also add additional costs to tax payers as Wallaceburg will invariably require an additional ambulance to make up for the loss of the ER as ambulances must bypass any facility that is not an Emergency Department. The will be off load delays at CKHA Chatham site which will be overloaded with patients again costing thousands of dollars in paramedics time not being able to hand over patient care to emergency staff. This is not an acceptable way for CKHA’s CEO to balance the budget.

  2. Are they just plain stupid. Oh I forgot priority is Chatham but how can one hospital handle all Chatham Kent. The wait times there are way to long now. Eliminate deficits or figure out how to keep it open. The retribution will be to great and it’s time we stood up and started screaming about our care.

  3. About 10 yrs ago when our hospital in wallaceburg was doing well it we were very lucky o have out emerg. I had taken my daughter to the dentist as she had been complaining about her teeth. We were there maybe 20 min but she was suffering some severe issues that they were unable to deal with. The dentist suggested we take her to the emerg in wallaceburg because they weren’t touching her. She had the chills and was freaking out in the chair. Not thinking anything of it or knowing the background of her fathers health records I was unable to assist them. We got into the vehicle and started heading over to the emerg, next thing that scared me was she stated she was in so much pain and to hurry. I managed to get her there in five min but had felt so much longer with the situation. We were admitted right away. She gets into the room yelling for something for the pain kicking and freaking out, next thing I am yelling for the nurses because she is convulsing and then went into a major seziure. Had we been on our way to Chatham she would never have made it. Long story short the wallaceburg hospital saved my grandchildrens mother years ago. She was shipped by helicopter to London icu due to finding out later she has renal failure. What I stated in a short paragraph is a much longer story then I am putting as the Wallaceburg hospital has saved my daughter many times after that. I am pretty sure there are others out there that feel the same, we are a large community with many families and elderly who rely on this hospital to stay open. Chatham Kent rebuilt theirs and remodelled. Maybe since so much was put into that one then there could be some consideration for our town. We are also close to Dresden who don’t have one. It’s a life or death situation for many of us who live 20 min away from the nearest hospital and a lot of people who don’t drive or rely on the bus. Please fight hard for our only means of feeling secure that there is help close by for ourselves and loved ones

  4. It is time to start a boycott of the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance Chatham by requesting your services from a location other than the Chatham Facility. This will send a message to the powers that be that they will not save a penny by closing our ER and trying to force us to go to Chatham Hospital. Go to the Wallaceburg ER for now but if it is closed you can still go to Petrolia, Sarnia and Four Counties Hospital. Any test requirements you can request another facility. Take your business elsewhere and they may actually learn a lesson.

  5. I think its wrong that they want close down Wallaceburg Hospital. we need the hopsital here. Seems to me that since we became Chatham Kent CHATHAM gets everything Wallaceburg loses everything, We have many older people here that need a hopsital as well as children. having to drive 20 mins could cost someone their life IF it was not for Wallaceburg hospital my grand son wouldnt be here. STOP TRYING TO SHUT DOWN OUR HOPSITAL. AND try helping us keep it open for the people of Wallaceburg

  6. I can’t believe how long it has taken to little by little drain our Wallacburg hospital sending everything to Chatham. In the future any one who has eg. a stroke or heart attack,will never make an ER trip Chatham is so busy now that instead of waiting 5or6 hours you will be looking at a lot longer,that is if you get there alive. If you’re going to take this hospital.then someone should make sure there is a fully equipped ER in its place.

    • Really wallaceburg hospital is already a clinic. Any emergency is shipped to chatham or another hospital. Any serious call paramedics are called to they head straight to chatham anyway such as stroke or heart attack. This will only put a strain on the EMS services that are already strained enough. Yes wallaceburg needs to keep their emergency room but i think it will better served as an urgent care clinic. We cannot as taxpayers keep dumping money into something that runsca deficit. Lets be realistic.

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