Walpole Island First Nation has put their unanimous support behind keeping a 24/7 emergency room at Wallaceburg’s Hospital.
Rex Isaac, a Walpole Island band councillor, told the Sydenham Current this was voted on and approved at Walpole’s regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, April 12.
“We gave unanimous support at the council level to support 24/7 emergency care for Sydenham District Hospital,” he said.
Isaac, who looks after Walpole’s healthcare portfolio on behalf of council, said they are going to be paying close attention to the entire situation at the Sydenham Campus of the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance.
“We have a lot of issues that we have to examine in whatever these proposed scenarios are,” Isaac said.
“That is why we are being very actively involved in knowing what’s going on. It seems there are updates happening on quite a regular basis. We want to make sure our considerations are included in that.”
Isaac, who ran for the NDP in Lambton-Kent-Middlesex during this past fall’s Federal Election, said he personally believes the vision put forward by the Sydenham District Hospital board on Tuesday night is a good compromise.
He added the plan put forward by the Public General and St. Joseph’s hospital boards, which was discussed at the Walpole Island band council meeting last week, raised some concerns.
“The plan spoke of a hub… including an Emergency Access Centre. It only included a nurse practitioner and an EMT. There was no doctors, no nurses for this emergency service. To me, that was a little disheartening and concerning.”
Isaac said another aspect Walpole Island is focusing on for healthcare, is transportation.
“I brought that forward to Sarah Padfield and the CKHA that we as Walpole Island, we want to make sure our members have ambulance service to get there, so that is being negotiated,” he said.
“Our boundary line county-wise, we’re in Lambton County, but service-wise we’re Kent County. So Kent County is not willing to provide ambulatory service on Walpole, so we have to have discussions with Lambton in regards to that. Those will be forthcoming.”
Isaac added: “The fact of having our members come back. It’s fine to get our members there, get them healed, to get them taken care of, but it is quite a lengthy distance from Chatham to Walpole, than it is from Wallaceburg to Walpole.”
Isaac said some members of their community have hitchhiked from a hospital to get back home to Walpole Island, due to lack of transportation.
“We do want to make sure that our people are taken care of in regards to transportation,” he said. “Those are some of the highlights, there are several issues of different levels… but we want to make sure that we put forward the best plans and that everything is considered.”
Referring to comment made by CKHA CEO Colin Patey during the SDH meeting, Isaac said he was disappointed to hear the Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network was invited to attend the meeting and failed to attend.
Wallaceburg Coun. Jeff Wesley said he was in attendance at the Walpole Island council meeting last week.
“There were a number of us, led by Jean Wrightman who made a delegation to Walpole Island First Nation band council,” he said.
“Chief and council 100% endorsed having 24/7 emergency department coverage to continue at Sydenham District Hospital in Wallaceburg. They see that as a right to which they are entitled. They understand fully to take that out of our community, is going to have a detrimental impact on everybody.
Wesley added: “As I said to them, that emergency department isn’t just Wallaceburg’s, it’s ours. That includes Wallaceburg, Walpole Island, St. Clair Township, North Kent… we’re all in this together and everyone of us has a piece in a very important puzzle.”
Wesley addressed the crowd at Tuesday’s SDH meeting as well.
He said while the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance refused to provide him a copy of the Public General and St. Joseph’s hospital board’s proposal, he did receive a copy from Walpole Island Chief Dan Miskokomon.
“I can see why they didn’t want me to see it,” Wesley said.
Wesley said he did not agree with elements of the proposal, including the lack of a helipad or an emergency department.
“This community will never, ever allow our ER to close,” Wesley said.
The SDH board has stated these reports and proposal are “still protected under a cloak of confidentiality.”
However, they have described some of the highlights, which can be read here.
A motion was also brought forward and approved during the SDH Meeting, for the board to look into the medicine chest clause, which has been interpreted by native leaders to mean that the federal government has an obligation to provide all forms of healthcare to First Nations people on an ongoing basis.
Watch for more coverage on this issue.
Here is some more background information:
More details about April 19 meeting: ‘This is the beginning of a new era’
SDH’s new vision: SDH approves a new vision for Wallaceburg’s hospital
LIVE coverage of April 19 meeting: Sydenham District Hospital members April 19th meeting, LIVE coverage
Big crowd anticipated at SDH members meeting: Overflow crowd expected at ‘important’ SDH meeting
Premier Wynne addresses Wallaceburg hospital issue: Wallaceburg’s hospital discussed at Queen’s Park
Health Minister addresses Wallaceburg situation: ‘No plans whatsoever’ to close Wallaceburg’s ER
MPP stands up for SDH: Letter: McNaughton vouches for Wallaceburg’s hospital
Wallaceburg Health Coalition heads to Toronto: Hospital fight heading to Queen’s Park
Call for unity: Councillor calls for unity following social media suggestion
Wallaceburg councillor not happy: Wesley not happy with Chatham hospital boards
Kirenko presents about Nova Scotia model: VP presents ‘Collaborative Emergency Centre’ model
Recap of SDH board meeting on April 11: Wallaceburg hospital board ‘disappointed’ with latest developments
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