(WINDSOR, ON) – Area residents gathered last night at the School of Social Work on Pitt Street to hear a collection of organizations outline concerns with the site selection of the planned mega-hospital. The groups are concerned that the proposed location will result in reduced access to health care for the area’s most at-risk populations.
The grassroots Citizens for an Accountable Mega-Hospital Planning Process has joined forces with Windsor on Watch, the Council of Canadians, the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, and the Ontario Health Coalition. The collective voice is drawing attention to the plan to make the new hospital the most distant of any in Canada.
“Our grassroots citizen advocacy group is saying this is not a done deal and we are calling on the provincial government to re-think this plan,” said Philippa von Ziegenweidt, of CAMPP.
Part of the hospital plan includes the demolition of the two existing hospitals, locating the new hospital on the edge of the city on un-serviced land, and the establishment of an urgent care facility which will close each evening at 9pm. The site selection of the hospital will add millions of public dollars to the overall cost of the project.
The coalition is also concerned with the lack of transparency thus far in the process. The groups are calling for new public consultations and disclosure of information.
The well-attended public forum is but a first step in ensuring a responsible plan for the hospital is undertaken. As well, the coalition will work toward removing the barriers to health care the current plan will entrench.
“Hospitals in Windsor do need to be fixed and be renewed, but this proposed privately owned, enormously expensive mega-hospital, so far removed from the downtown that abandons the vulnerable inner-city population, is planning gone horribly wrong,” said Michael Hurley, the president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE. “These decisions are far too important to be made by the tiny elite that runs the Windsor hospital.”
The plan for the new hospital does not address over crowding due to the lack of beds servicing the area. Additionally, there will be no more beds than already exist at the current acute care hospitals and patients will continue to be transferred to London to receive health care.
The aim of the citizen advocacy coalition is to remove the barriers to health care before the proposed plan is acted upon.
“Otherwise, the costs involved are enormous and the impact on access to care for city residents, the elderly in particular, will be dramatic,” said Natalie Mehra, the executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition. “There is a real chance here to save services in the city and to improve access to vital hospital care. If regular people raise their voices on this now, together we can make an enormous difference in thousands of peoples’ lives.”