(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.
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.