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Health Alliance needs to get in cash queue

Posted: April 28, 2017

Monday, October 24, 2016 10:06:26 EDT AM

Representatives from the Chatham-Kent Health Coalition, the Wallaceburg-Walpole Island Health Coalition, along with the executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition, Natalie Mehra, recently met with Rob DeVitt, Supervisor for Chatham Kent Health Alliance and Ken Deane, interim CEO for CKHA.

Many issues were discussed, but there is one issue that is extremely important to Chatham Kent. Most will remember that several years ago, CKHA developed the Imagine Project, which asked the provincial government for capital funds to build a new hospital building in Wallaceburg, and renovate part of the Chatham campus. CKHA had an engineering report done showing how out of date and unsafe the Wallaceburg hospital was. Numerous renovations were needed in Chatham.

This capital funding project was to be submitted to the provincial government, where it would be placed into a queue, to await funding approval. Some years later the public was made aware that building projects under $10 million were approved much faster, and perhaps this avenue would be better for our community.

Before any other monetary decisions were made, the government stepped in, and appointed a supervisor for CKHA. During our meeting, Mr. Devitt advised us that there was confusion regarding the Imagine project: the hospital stated that it had been submitted, and the government stated that it had NOT been submitted.

This means CKHA is not in the queue to receive any capital funding for hospital building and/or renovation. This is a problem that must be dealt with immediately; time is ticking for the life of the Wallaceburg building, and larger renovations will be required in Chatham. Mr. DeVitt has commissioned a new structural engineering review for the Wallaceburg building to ascertain if it is in as much disrepair as the CKHA previous report had indicated.

Regardless, it is my belief we must submit a capital building project request to the provincial government as soon as it is possible. Not having any request before the government could mean the Wallaceburg hospital building would have to be closed, due to safety concerns. We want to make sure there is a viable plan for the future of the Wallaceburg hospital and enough money available to ensure renovations are completed in Chatham.

Mr. DeVitt has stated that the Ontario government has had a long-standing policy of cost-sharing with communities in regard to capital building projects. Wallaceburg and its surrounding area has a long-standing history of generous giving to community projects. We will need government assistance, and the first step will be to join the queue for capital building approval.

Please call or write to the supervisor of CKHA, Rob DeVitt, the interim CEO, Ken Deane, MPP Monte McNaughton and Minister of Health Dr. Eric Hoskins expressing your views about this most important issue.

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