Monday, January 30, 2023

‘This is the beginning of a new era’

wallaceburg ER

The SDH board outlined their new vision for Wallaceburg’s hospital during a packed meeting at the UAW Hall on Tuesday night. George Lung, a board member with the Sydenham District Hospital Corporation, provided details to the crowd of 450 plus people at the event.

“This is the beginning of a new era of hospital care in this area,” Lung said.

The vision includes:

– An integrated healthcare delivery system

– Co-location with healthcare service providers

– 24/7 Emergency Department

– Professional staffing, including physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners

– All necessary ancillary services for the ED (eg. diagnostic and laboratory)

– Helipad

– Combination of medicine and observation beds

– Maintain the ability to accommodate Sarnia/Chatham overflow

– Governance under the SDH board (continued corporate membership)

– A facility that will allow for the future expansion in a site to be determined

Lung said the SDH board plans to request that Sydenham Campus be “reclassified” as a small, rural hospital and that Wallaceburg, Walpole Island and St. Clair Township be formed into a new district of the Erie-St. Clair Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), which will work jointly with other healthcare organizations (see below):


In a press release issued following the meeting, the SDH Board said various CKHA reports “still protected under a cloak of confidentiality” were shared by CKHA staff with the Walpole Island Band Council earlier this month.

The SDH board said these proposals, which the SDH board voted down at a March 31 Tri-Board meeting, outlined details to re-design of services now provided at the Sydenham District Hospital and the closure of its emergency department.

Lung outlined some of the highlights of the plan by the Public General and St. Joseph’s hospital boards for Wallaceburg, which would include:

– Community “Hub” – integration & co-location with service providers

– No Emergency Department

– 16 hours from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

– Staffing – no ER physicians

– Limited laboratory services (“point of care” only)

– X-ray service only

– Acute cases taken directly to Chatham

– Governance under CKCHC Board (no Corporate Membership)

Following the meeting, Colin Patey, the President and CEO of the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance said he didn’t see many differences between the plan put forward by the SDH board and the plan outlined by the Public General and St. Joseph’s boards.

“It’s twins, just from a different mother and father,” Patey said.

“It looks so much alike. It’s unbelievable. I am stretched to find the differences but that’s okay. I can see where some of them do exist. The first thing you will look at and you will see is far more similarities than differences. In fact predominantly similar. I mean the thing is like co-location with the other providers, integrated care services kind of thing. ”

Patey added: “So you know there is a lot of elements to it, that they’ve got nearly all of it. I think they would have been well served but that is just a personal opinion. If they had said ‘in concept, we agree’ but there are details we need to work out but that is approach, rather than substance. If that’s how they choose to take their approach, then that’s fine.”

Sheldon Parsons, the chair of the SDH board, said Patey’s claim about similarities is wrong.

“You saw on the screen tonight that was proposed in a report and was approved by the other two boards, Sydenham District Hospital did not approve it,” Parsons said.

“It was mentioned therefore CKHA didn’t approve it, but the other two boards chose to take that report and present it to the LHIN… they represented it as being approved by them. The highlights were significantly different than the highlights that followed. There is a considerable difference. It’s unfortunate that Colin represented it that way.”

Parsons said Patey “had no right” to take Public General and St. Joseph’s plan to the LHIN.

“Nothing can go to the LHIN that isn’t supported by all three boards as part of the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance,” Parsons said.

“The other two boards chose to take a direct path to do something that we don’t believe they had the authority to do.”

Parsons added the SDH board wants to get back to the table and “work some of these differences out.

“That is what makes the Alliance work. If that is not possible, there are other more drastic solutions, which we would then have no control over,” he said.

Parsons said the SDH board has their hands tied when it comes to moving forward.

“We’ve been informed by our CEO that the other two boards were not in favour of providing us with any funding from the corporate pot to either get legal advice or to do additional research or provide for additional review of the report that we received,” Parsons said.

“We are extremely limited, our backs are to the wall and we have to fight for every inch of ground.”

Kris Lee, an SDH board member, said a progress report is being prepared and will be released before the SDH board’s annual general meeting taking place in June.

Watch for more coverage.

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