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Vigilance urged on local health care

Posted: April 8, 2016

(April 8, 2016)

By: Trevor Terfloth, Chatham Daily News

With hospitals large and small feeling the pinch across the province, local residents are being encouraged to speak up about the need for investment in their health care.

That was the message during a town hall meeting hosted by the Chatham-Kent Health Coalition on Friday night at the Chatham library branch.

Co-chairperson Shirley Roebuck said there are concerns about potential cuts given the financial position of the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance.

Earlier this year, the CKHA forecasted a total year-end deficit of $1.8 million. The main driver of the deficit is the change in revenue from the shift to population-based funding models and health system funding reform.

The CKHA was told earlier this year that it would be receiving $2.5 million less than it was expecting from the province’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

“Ultimately, that’s going to affect patient care,” Roebuck said, reiterating it wasn’t the hospital’s fault for the shortfall. “I believe the community should be better served with local quality health-care services.”

A handful of people attended Friday’s meeting, including those involved with the health coalition.

Some discussed their personal experiences within the health-care system, such as delays, surgery cancellations and having to travel to other facilities in southwestern Ontario for care.

Scott Wiebenga said the lack of staffing was already apparent on the hospital floor.

“You can’t blame the nurses,” he said. “You can’t help but feel sorry for them.”

Chatham-Kent Essex MPP Rick Nicholls said he’s worried about the state of health care and believes if the province was wiser with money management it wouldn’t be faced with the problem.

He was particularly concerned about the impact of any decisions on seniors, saying they were the ones who built communities.

“Is this the thanks you get? It’s not fair. It’s not right,” he said.

However, Nicholls noted he has a good working relationship with the health minister and promised to continue to push the importance of local hospitals.

“We’ve got to reform the health-care system,” he said, believing that a common-sense approach is needed.

Roebuck called the problem “multifaceted,” but believes it’s possible to fix the situation if people’s voices are heard.

She added the coalition is pondering a day of action at Queen’s Park in the future.

“We have paid for health care through our taxes and this is what we’re getting,” she said.

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