There is good reason Essex County residents, particularly those in Leamington and Kingsville, should join Windsor in the call for an immediate re-think of the location selected for the new, so-called mega-hospital. The $2 Billion project, if built near Windsor’s airport, may be too close to Leamington’s Erie Shores Healthcare. It is this proximity which may lead to the hospital’s demise.
If it is too close, like Wallaceburg’s Sydenham Campus is from the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, it could, at the least, lose considerable funding.
According to Google, the drive from Windsor’s airport to downtown Leamington is 37 minutes. However the proposed hospital site is east of the airport, allowing the use of Baseline Road for a shorter journey.
The driving distance is critical.
Last year, the Province of Ontario ruled the Sydenham campus was too close, as measured by driving time, from Chatham’s Health Alliance campus, on Grand Avenue West. Because of this it no longer qualifies as a small, rural hospital and will result in significant funding reductions.
The drive from Chatham to Wallaceburg is 22 minutes. It is under the 30 minute minimum needed to keep full hospital status.
Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath told the Sydenham Current, in a report published August 4, that, “… while the hospital falls within the definition of small, as I think everyone agrees, the Wynne government decided that it was eight minutes too close to Chatham to count as rural. The hospital has lost its small and rural hospital designation. Without the designation Wallaceburg will lose services, beds and care.”
Those thinking Erie Shores will stay open in Leamington, once the mega-hospital opens, may want to do some driving between the sites. Although proving the driving time is more than 30 minutes might not guarantee funding. There will be other considerations.
Horwath told the Currant that, through a Freedom of Information request, she was not able to find an adequate rationale for the Sydenham decision. She says what her staff heard from the Ministry of Health, “… didn’t inspire a lot of confidence in this government’s health care leadership.”
Other factors, she said, came into play, including stripping services from Wallaceburg to keep the, “… accounting clear between Sydenham and Chatham.” It was, she added, “… too complex to even bother.”
Will Erie Shores face the same fate?
With the mega-hospital so close to the county that its patients will be able to watch soy beans grow, will there be any rationalization to keep two hospitals operating so close together?
The only way Leamington might have to keep its hospital is to convince the government to build the new hospital where it should be built, in the most densely populated area of Windsor. This would ensure a safe and proper distance.