Mega-Hospital Plight

Header-image-TuomiBy Robert Tuomi

(WINDSOR, ON) – As more information surfaces, it becomes quite clear the location selection process for a so-called mega-hospital for Windsor and Essex is more than flawed. In a nutshell, the emphasis was on finding a location, not determining what a hospital could do for the region.

The considerable urgency of this project might suggest someone is looking for a legacy. However, a legacy of a hospital in a farmer’s field, which simply replicates what now exists, is a false one at best.

The exercise should not be about a new building, but of building a true new outstanding health sciences centre that takes the region to a new level and allows it to create a leading position in medical health, research, and teaching.

One of the most intriguing aspects of what has transpired is the odd methodology. This was clearly revealed in a lawsuit filed by GEM Properties; it came second and is now suing for some $10 million in damages.

Although no claims have been proven, GEM’s submission to the Superior Court describes a very limited selection process which consisted of Windsor Regional Hospital inviting, “… submissions from property owners interested in offering their properties as a potential site.”

In other words, the steering committee selected a location from property owners who freely offered their properties. It did not do the heavy lifting of actually working, and working hard, to determine the best location for the hospital.

Nor did it even consider what the hospital could be which, in turn, would provide ample guidance on its location.

Building a hospital to combine what already exists into one building is strange, to say the least. It not only ignores the considerable contributions the community has made to creating two very fine and functional hospitals, but also ignores the opportunity to put the city on the map to create something of a robust, medical marvel.

Philippa Von Ziegenweidt, of Citizens for an Accountable Mega-Hospital Planning Process (CAMPP), in a post to the local paper January 8, reported, “… the steering committee admitted that patients will still be travelling to London and Toronto for treatments not offered here. This is a new hospital, not expanded service.”

While spending billions of dollars on replication is pure folly, it is not uncommon.

The city itself plans to spend millions on a not needed city hall. For a fraction of the cost, the County of Essex simply refurbished its hall, removing very similar issues that are said to plague Windsor’s municipal centre.

A particular error of the hospital selection committee, as its member Bob Renaud told the local paper January 7, was its narrow terms of reference. Renaud admitted, “… the committee did not consider what effect removing two hospitals might have on the city core, however, since that was not one of the criteria his group was asked to assess.”

In other words, the committee did not have the task of finding out what a new hospital could do for the region. It could do plenty.

For one, Windsor fought hard for a satellite medical school. Why was there no examination of expanding the school by building a teaching hospital?

Windsor is a de-industrializing city. Why was there no examination of how the hospital could contribute to energizing, or at least kick-starting, the region’s economy by creating a research oriented hospital? The committee could identify a medical specialty to develop a unique reputation rather than simply a building.

Without question, the city and region have very toxic air linked to innumerable health issues. There are a number of organizations sponsoring research into these aliments. They could be tapped for financing to build a prestigious centre of excellence, something well beyond what the new hospital will be.

Resulting commercialization opportunities could foster whole new manufacturing ventures that would diversify the region’s economy. Rushing ahead to amalgamate two hospitals into one is simply short-sighted.

Windsor can do better.

It should start by revising the whole process from a narrow focus to a wider one; one that would see the hospital become an enabler of a brighter, healthier future for all.

The first step is to stop the rush and rethink what can be done.

Robert Tuomi can be heard at 8:30 pm every Monday evening and noon every Wednesday co-hosting Talkin’ ‘Bout Windsor on CJAM 99.1 FM. Listen on demand to previous episodes or catch the discussion live and join in. Talkin’ ‘Bout Windsor is broadcast every Monday and Wednesday to the Windsor and Detroit listening area and streamed online at CJAM.

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About the Author

Robert Tuomi

After initially succeeding as a broadcast journalist and achieving senior level assignments, Robert branched out into marketing communications. As a senior executive, primarily in the high-tech industry, Robert created award-winning and comprehensive, multi-faceted initiatives to enhance sales and expand market awareness for some of the largest companies in their fields.

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11 Comments on "Mega-Hospital Plight"

  1. I asked m city councillor in the west end what about the city and the ramifications it will have to endure because of this. Isn’t there a better location, one in which will help jumpstart this city. I was told “this isn’t about the city, this is only about the patients and doing what’s best for them. I thought with 2 billion dollars you can certainly kill 2 birds with one stone.

  2. Brenda Clarke | 17 January 2016 at 17:29 |

    Fun Fact#1: 22 sites were considered for this new hospital. Dave Cooke at Friday’s meeting said accessibility as in “parking” was an important criterion. I thought being able to access the location meant accessibility. So it isn’t accessible to all then. Fun Fact #2: there will be a levee to WIndsor citizens of > $300 million to pay for the project. A well kept secret. And a question:why did David Misyj state at the same meeting state that the lawsuit was lost “fair and square” when it’s only just been launched?

  3. Patrick Hannon | 17 January 2016 at 16:33 |

    The “mega-hospital” will not be so mega. It will offer less beds than are currently available, some of which are not staffed. Medical service will not be expanded. What’s the point?

    Farhi Development purchased the proposed land on 42 already. Remember Farhi from the WFCU Centre/Riverside Drive land swap?

    Windsor-Essex is under served. Instead of putting the funds into the proposed mega hospital, why not invest it in our actual health care and service needs? Leamington Hospital could be improved to better serve southeast Essex County. An emergency/urgent care facility with prenatal services could be built in the Amherstburg/LaSalle area to serve the southwestern county residents and one similarly built for Essex to serve the northeast end of the county. Perhaps then, there would be enough funding to fully staff these facilities.

    The drain of the patients, visitors, and staff from the current facilities, the environmental clean up from demolishing the Metropolitan Campus, and having a hospital next to an airport is not a situation that gets Windsor-Essex better healthcare. The proposed site is no solution. It is simply a pretty-shinny building that will negatively impact the region without delivering better healthcare.

  4. Firstly, the only risk of losing this funding is if the Ministry finds sufficient deficiencies with the site or WRH plan. Secondly, I agree with the author 100%. This is a 100 year project, this should not be approached as an exercise in expediency. What people are ignoring or are not aware of when they look at the location is the factor of population density. A site closer to EC Row and Dougall would shorten the travel distance for more of the regional population because Lasalle and Windsor are so much more developed. I’m not certain why the narrative is being devolved as a city VS county conflict. Manipulation like this suggests that there is another agenda

    • The debate is taking attention away from the fact that this so called Mega Hospital is nothing more than we have now. It will provide no redundancy of service. Remember SARS? Where do patients get diverted to in the event of any disruption to service? We should be asking how investing so many tax dollars will make hospital service better. The legacy costs to Windsor tax payers for maintaining more roads, sewers, Enwin services and expanding Transit Windsor routes without actually increasing ridership or our tax base and more costs I’m sure, will fall on city tax payers. We will be paying more for less beds, fewer nurses and no redundancy of service. Why? Always ask why.

  5. Sheila M. Street | 13 January 2016 at 03:10 |

    I really don’t see how having a Mega Hospital in Windsor at this time or even the near furture is going to help our health care, when Mr. Musyj is hell bent on saving money on the backs of patients, with his idea of hiring more RPN’s to replace RN’s, retired or laid-off. If we cannot afford to pay for the BEST help at our two existing hospitals in Windsor, where the heck is Mr. Musyj going to find the money to hire RN’s for a state of the art “marvel”. Well, maybe he’ll just have machines do the nursing.

  6. robert tuomi | 12 January 2016 at 20:47 |

    Mike, if the idea was to amalgamate the hospitals and move them to a site nearer to the county, the committee has succeeded. However, looking at it from another perspective, and this is not to say it could not be built in the selected location, but rather what could be built there and what could the hospital do to be greater than a simple replication of what exists. We need to think beyond the normal particularly when so much taxpayer money is being used. Why not take advantage of the expenditure and gain rather than equal?.

    • Mike Provost | 12 January 2016 at 21:12 |

      Robert, I agree with your statement. We do have to look outside of the box. We have an opportunity to build a state of the art medical facility. There is the possibility and land to buy and expand the new facility as time dictates and money of course. The area chosen has all the necessities in order to become a significant player in the area of health care. With the medical school in Windsor, the proximity to Detroit and The Windsor Airport anything is possible. Think “BIG”, maybe not right away, but the land will always be there and available for future generations to decide.

  7. Mike Provost | 12 January 2016 at 13:52 |

    The present choice is the correct choice. It is centrally located for access from all points in Windsor and the COUNTY which it is being built to serve. There is also room in the chosen area for future expansion if that becomes necessary.

    Yes it is replacing two hospitals within city limits but both there hospitals need extensive work and repair. Hotel Deiu/Grace, in my opinion, Does not meet the standards as a facility to take care of the disabled or those having surgery.

    Neither of these hospitals is located in a way that they can service the county, quickly and efficiently. If there was a major catastrophe in the county accessing both these establishments would prove to be a major problem. Traffic congestion would slow the emergency response immensely.
    I think the steering committee did what was expected of them and their choice was the best option.

    • Judith Crabbe | 13 January 2016 at 23:30 |

      Totally agree with above comments…..we are in jeopardy of losing the whole project!

  8. The lawsuit that was filed gives the Liberal Government the opportunity to cancel the mega hospital to be built in this area. The NDP dominates this area so why would the Liberal government put a mega hospital in this area, they will put it up in a dominate Liberal area. The lawsuit is a ploy to get this hospital cancelled, the decision was made for the area in question because it would save over a million dollars for the land cost.

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