Sunday, October 17, 2021

Wallaceburg hospital board ‘disappointed’ with latest developments

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The SDH board learned through a pair of letters that 1) four organizations have sent a proposal to the LHIN about how Wallaceburg’s health care should be delivered and 2) that all governance activities with the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance are suspended.

In response, a “disappointed” Sydenham District Hospital board unanimously approved a stoppage on any changes to services at Wallaceburg’s hospital. All of this was dicussed, along with other items, at their board meeting held at the Sydenham Campus on Monday, April 11.

Four organizations send letter to LHIN

A letter, which was addressed to Gary Switzer, CEO of the Erie-St. Clair LHIN and Dr. Martin Girash, chair of the LHIN board, and written by Jane Havens, chair of the Public General Hospital Society of Chatham, Gail Rumble, chair of St. Joseph’s Health Services Association of Chatham, Inc., Shirley Davis, president of the Chatham-Kent Community Health Centre, and Spencer Dickson, chair of the Canadian Mental Health Association Lambton Kent, addresses the plan by all four boards to support an interlocking approach to capital planning.

“The planning philosophy has been to develop a system that provides high quality care and reduces the current and future risks to patients,” says the letter, which was dated Thursday, April 7.

The letter says the organization’s all with “three distinct sub-projects”, including:

– Improving access to the right care at the right time in the right place by the right provider for patients/clients across Chatham-Kent, including primary care and preventative care

– Provide much needed enhanced, collaborative, co-located and integrated space for service delivery in Chatham and Wallaceburg

– Utilizing healthcare resources, fiscal and human, to the best extent possible throughout the system, achieving efficiencies, creating capacity and delivering high quality care.

“The model being proposed for Wallaceburg in this proposal is grounded in a community-health centric approach with the Chatham-Kent Community Health Centre being established as the lead agency,” the letter says.

“From a health policy perspective this clearly aligns to both the Ministry’s Patient First Action Plan and from a LHIN perspective is an absolute reflection of the goals and objectives of your IHSP.”

The letter states further that the four organizations have demonstrated that their “integration” and “collaboration” has already made a difference to patients and improved outcomes and performance.

“Going forward, we will continue to build on the strength of these partnerships to create physical environments that further enhance seamless care,” the letter states.

“We will focus on the critical elements needed to reduce risk to our patients that is evident in our current health system model.”

The letter states that this proposal was unanimously approved by all four boards.

“We are convinced it best serves the entire community of Chatham-Kent,” the letter says.

“It also supports the mechanism in which healthcare was intended to be delivered in our community. It represents an unprecedented opportunity for the LHIN and government to invest in and strengthen our local healthcare delivery system.”

The SDH board was also sent a copy of this letter, and it was presented during their Monday board meeting in Wallaceburg.

George Lung, a SDH board member, said the plan discussed in the letter was approved by both Public General Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital boards, and was rejected by SDH.

“Taking that at face value, the Tri-Board rules are that if not all three boards approve something, it’s not approved,” he said.

“In reality, this situation means that the Tri-Board has rejected the plan that was presented.”

Herb John, a SDH board member, said this proposal was suppose to be sent by the Tri-Board.

“We have two other boards approving it and I’m not sure how much they knew about the Sydenham Board’s position on these issues. I don’t think they knew much. We’ve asked numerous times to meet with the other boards (CKCHC and Mental Health), that was never arranged. We were told there were no meetings.”

John added: “Collaboratively those four boards have taken a position in this letter, which again we are all disappointed with, and I don’t know if they have been told… about the positive role we have played in the Tri-Board. We’ve never been able to meet with them.”

Kris Lee, a SDH board member, said the board had requested to meet with the Chatham-Kent Community Health Centre and the Canadian Mental Health Association Lambton Kent boards “numerous times.”

Parsons said more information will be available on April 19 at the SDH members meeting at the UAW Hall.

“Obviously there will be some discussions with our legal team,” Parsons said.

“There will be more presentations to the members and the general public who are invited to that meeting. It’s our intent to provide as much information as we can at that meeting. We have certain agreements to confidentiality… we’re not sure everyone has followed that, but as a board we’re going to do the best we can to follow that… but we believe that information to the public and information to our members at this point and because of actions taken by other boards, information to the public may trump those promises of confidentiality. More news to come on the 19th.”

Alliance governance activities suspended

Another letter addressed to SDH chair Sheldon Parsons and written by Havens and Rumble said the hospital corporations of both the Public General Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital boards intend to suspend all Alliance governance activities, as of April 6 when the letter was sent.

The letter says both boards met to discuss the status of the Alliance relationship following the outcome of the recent Tri-Board meeting held on March 31.

“It is our opinion that the actions of the Sydenham Board are not keeping with the spirit and intent of the Alliance Agreement,” states the letter.

“Given the current state of affairs, including the clear and irreconcilable differences between the parties of the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, we feel it is necessary to suspend all Alliance activities until further notice.”

This includes any ancillary activity, the letter says.

“We cannot in good conscience carry on with a governance and leadership agreement knowing quality patient care, the advice of our clinicians, and our collective fiscal solvency is at risk,” the letter says.

“We will be exploring our options and next steps and will be communicating with you in the near future.”

The SDH members all expressed their disappointment with the letter.

John said the both Havens and Rumble make no mention of things the entire Tri-Board agreed on at their March 31 meeting.

“They make a strong mention of clear and irreconcilable differences, they make no mention of the things we agreed to, which was the majority of the issues we talked about,” he said. “It’s very disappointing that they don’t recognize the positive contributions this board has made to the Tri-Board. Very disappointing.”

John added: “I think there is nothing in the bylaws that allow two boards to suspend the governance activities of the Tri-Board. I think the legal requirements of the Corporations Act and our bylaws require that we continue meeting.”

Parsons said it is important for all three board’s to work together.

“To work through issues, to resolve those issues and to do what can be done for the betterment of healthcare across our region,” Parsons added.

“Where we end up disagreeing on issues, it’s incumbent upon us to sort through them and work them out and resolve them. You can’t resolve them when you suspend Alliance activities. It is my sincere hope the the three board’s will see the need to get back together to continue joint governance of one hospital organization. Where we have difference that we do our darndest to resolve them.”

Willi Kirenko, vice president and chief nursing executive at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, said the halting of governance activities does not have an impact of services provided.

“We have an excellent staff who are clearly focused on quality and patient safety and that continues,” she said.

“We see improvements occurring in some of our performance and we’ll keep doing the great job that we do with being very proud of our staff.”

Moratorium on any changes to service delivery at Sydenham Campus

The SDH board unanimously approved a motion by by vice-chair Conrad, in response to the decision by the Public General Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital boards to suspend all Alliance activities.

Noel’s motion stated that an immediate and permanent moratorium on any changes to service delivery at Sydenham District Hospital which, included any changes to the availability and service delivery of emergency services located at Sydenham District Hospital.

Noel’s motion says the moratorium will remain in place until the SDH board approves a further motion to overturn it.

“We need to give our community some stability,” Noel said. “Nothing will change unless the board approves it. That is crucial for the next few years.”

Lung, who seconded Noel’s motion, said the moratorium is crucial.

“Given the attitude that is shown in the two letters we just discussed, I think it is absolutely essential that we have this motion in place,” Lung said.

Parsons said he agrees with the motion and the sentiment.

“We need to put things on paper in a public way so the community understands where this board stands, where this board is at in representing and furthering healthcare services in our community,” he said.

Watch for more coverage on the Sydenham Current, including a story based on a presentation by Kirenko at the SDH meeting.

Here is some more background information:

LIVE tweets from April 11 SDH meeting: Board meeting at Sydenham Campus in Wallaceburg, LIVE coverage

SDH Chair doesn’t agree with CKHA report: Proposed hospital changes does ‘not meet our expectations’

Health coalition meeting recap, April 7: New health Coalition fighting for Wallaceburg’s hospital

Advocacy group formed: New hospital advocacy group holding town-hall meeting

Full interview with CKHA CEO: CKHA president discusses Wallaceburg hospital situation

March 23 meeting recap: ‘Everything has to be on the table’

LIVE coverage of March 23 meeting: Wallaceburg hospital meeting at the UAW Hall

MPP bringing concerns to Queen’s Park: MPP: ‘The community spoke loud’

March 23 meeting preview: Doubts arising about Wallaceburg’s ER future

CKHA facing deficit: CKHA board meeting highlights

Imagine project background: New direction for a brand new Wallaceburg hospital

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