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De-amalgamation ‘not being considered at this time’: health minister

Health Minister Deb Matthews has stated in a letter that “the de-amalgamation of any of the QHC sites is not being considered at this time”.

POOCH (Patrons of Our County Hospital) members shared the news at the meeting of the County’s healthcare advisory committee Tuesday at Shire Hall.

Spokesman Wolf Braun updated the committee on the group’s four bus loads of citizens visiting Queen’s Park in April and POOCH’s meeting with the minister to express concerns over drastic cuts to Picton’s hospital.

“While I welcome your suggestions on how to improve patient care, and I appreciate any further recommendations you may have on how QHC and the South East Local Health Integration Network may further engage local residents, the de-amalgamation of any of the QHC sites is not being considered at this time,” wrote Matthews.

Braun said the group will continue its work and concentrate on any glimmers of hope they can find in the letter.

“We are asking council and the mayor for more visibility at the council table and in the media,” said Braun. “Plus, we will once again be asking to see the financials broken out by QHC on our hospital. We need to understand those numbers in our quest to de-amalgamate our hospital.”

“We are going to elevate our activities,” he said, noting POOCH will have a float in the Wellington Canada Day parade.  “We will be asking County residents to phone, write, email the premier and tell her and all elected politicians what our hospital means to residents of the County, and to ask for a reply from our elected officials.  The message is still the same – ‘We want our hospital back!’ ”

He told the committee the group has been doing its homework and will continue their fight against the cuts – most recently the removal of maternity services.

And while supporters of the Picton hospital question the need for a new facility to house just 12 beds, QHC CEO Mary Clare Egberts reported the ministry has told QHC its business plan for a new Picton hospital “is too large with too many beds for the future needs of this population based on the standards across the rest of Ontario”.

Mark Larratt- Smith, a founding member of the healthcare committee, told its members Tuesday the idea “will never happen” and is “nothing more than a pipe dream.”

“The county’s health care system is badly broken,” he said, adding “We can’t rely on outsiders to fix our problems” he said, noting people should also recognize that problems can create opportunity.”

“This is not a time for despair. I once had an engineer colleague who used to say that some problems cannot be solved: they can only be “re-solved”. His full letter to the community here

Former mayor Leo Finnegan, who will be taking on duties as president of the PECM Hospital Foundation this year, spoke of his disappointment but noted encouragement from POOCH members and others willing to continue to fight for Picton’s hospital.

“People that I talk to in this community are very, very upset. We see it at the foundation. Our donations have dropped dramatically. People are saying ‘we’re not going to give any money to this hospital because it’s not going to be there.”

Egberts, a member of the healthcare advisory committee, defended the “difficult decisions” that have been made and noted her disappointment with the ministry’s decision not to support the business case for a new hospital in Picton. She spoke to the length of time necessary to build a hospital and the common discouragement, reminding the audience the QHC Belleville plans were approved in the early to mid 90s… and it’s still under construction.

“It can seem frustrating. But we must not get discouraged… This is the right long-term plan for this community. Our vision for a new hospital and consolidated health centre with the family health team is absolutely the future of rural health care in Ontario and we want this community to be at the leading edge of that.”

The next step, she said, is a detailed review of the business case to discuss the ministry’s specific concerns.

“The thing we need to recognize is that in order to get moved into that queue of hospitals being built, we have to demonstrate that the community is behind a new hospital and the community will contribute to the local share… Quite frankly I think we’ve got move beyond some of the amalgamation discussions slowing up the ability to get the hospital through that pipeline.”

* Mayor John Williams wants Trenton Memorial out of QHC. Will ask POOCH to work together. As well as beds and employees, TMH has lost its ICU, obstetrics, special care beds and its laboratory Click to read Trentonian report.


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  1. Wolf Braun says:

    ” 99.8% of Canada’s 10 million square kilometres are rural by area. 31.4% of Canada’s population or roughly 9 million people live in predominantly rural regions. Towns under 10,000 account for 22.2% of the population, and yet they are served by only 10.1% of physicians. Canada’s larger rural and regional centres 10,000 to 100,000 population constitute 15.9% of the population and have only 11.9% of the physician pool. With sub specialists and high technology of large cities distant, country doctors work in small groups in settings which require a broad spectrum of clinical skills.” …Society of Rural Physicians of Canada

  2. Wolf Braun says:

    “There are several basic services that for population safety and access need to be as close as possible to where people live and work. By analogy it doesn’t matter that fire halls are inefficient as the vast majority of the time there is no fire to fight. That service is none the less needed in a timely fashion. Similarly basic medical care is needed close to the patient.” ….Society of Rural Physicians of Canada

    Yet our Government in Queen’s Park, via QHC, still wants to close our PECMH hospital. You can do your part by writing the PREMIER asking her to give us back our hospital. …

  3. Wolf Braun says:

    ” Did anyone expect the Ministry to entertain de-amalgamation and provide the funding ( and administration costs)to operate as a stand alone. ”

    The expectation this time around Mark was set at zero. 🙂

    Do you have ideas and suggestions that would ensure we win the battle this time?

  4. Wolf Braun says:

    P.O.O.C.H. will be meeting with Mayor John Williams and his group at 9am on Wednesday, June 26th in Mr. Williams’ Trenton board room.

    Also present will be a representative from the Liberal Party of Ontario who will provide insight on how best to engage the Premier. Also present will be a County resident who we hope will be assisting P.O.O.C.H. with a viable business plan.

    P.O.O.C.H. will also be reaching out to some 20-30 small rural hospitals who have the same goal as we have. Plans are underway to get the PREMIER’s attention.

    As to Mr.Inrig… he would be more valuable towards getting our hospital back if he actively participated. Every resident of the County needs to be engaged in the effort to ensure that we have and maintain a viable hospital in PEC (with the services) that we need to serve our unique geography.

    Follow us on for updates on our progress and you can help in getting our hospital back.

  5. Mark says:

    Did anyone expect the Ministry to entertain de-amalgamation and provide the funding ( and administration costs)to operate as a stand alone. The government is in debt to it’s neck and cannot let it happen. The time to do battle was when the Conservatives sold us this bill of goods. I think most knew then that the scheme smelled to high heaven and that it was just a matter of time until Belleville General swallowed us whole.

  6. Doris Lane says:

    P O.O.C.H. might do well to read a letter written by Ian Inrig on how the County should go about trying to get the hospital back. I am not sure they are going about this the right way and I think we should co-operate with Mr Williams

  7. Jan says:

    It is time that POOCH stops being so territorial and intimidated by Quinte West and John Williams. John Williams is a very intelligent businessman who certainly can bring a lot to the table in the fight for de-amalgamation for both hospitals. Get off your high horse and work with Williams and Quinte West!

  8. Wolf Braun says:

    P.O.O.C.H. will decide today about a possible meeting with Mayor Williams. If so, we would also invite Mayor Peter Mertens. That meeting may take place as early as Wednesday, the 26th.

    In the meantime, go to and let us know what you think. Share your stories about PECMH so that we can make you part of our strategy to de-amalgamate our hospital from QHC.

  9. Wolf Braun says:

    ” The next step, she said, is a detailed review of the business case to discuss the ministry’s specific concerns.”

    I strongly urge Ms.Egberts to consider receiving input from Prince Edward County residents.

    A business case without quantitative and qualitative input from the frontlines – the people who use and work at PECMH, is NOT a sound strategy. Ms.Egberts short-circuited the business case process on the first try… possibly resulting in ministry concerns. Or she’s simply playing both ends – her masters and “us”.

    All the more reasons for P.O.O.C.H. supporters to not wait for yet another hollow invitation from QHC and to go directly to the PREMIER.

    You can find the premier on Facebook. Just type in her name and become her friend. That’s an easy way to let her know what you want.

    You can also find P.O.O.C.H. on Facebook at…

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