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Hospital – This House of Hurting

Jan. 15/11
In the summer of 1998 as I was about to retire from PECMH I remember very clearly having a conversation with a local physician (now retired ) about the imminent amalgamation of our local hospital with QHC. Even though we were assured otherwise we both knew it would only be a matter of time before PECMH would be ‘swallowed up’ by Belleville hospital. It appears now that we are about to move one step closer to that prediction with the very real possibility of eight beds being moved from Picton to Belleville. Once again PECMH so aptly called “This House Of Healing” in the book of the same name by local author Alan Capon becomes ‘This House Of Hurting”.
In an agreement made about a year ago the PEC family physicians agreed to look after the ‘orphan’ patients from Belleville and Trenton to help offload QHC’s huge expense of approximately 2 Million per year to hire doctors to look after these inpatients. Since then both Belleville and Trenton have acquired new physicians in their communities and patients want to be looked after in their local hospitals. Interestingly enough PEC residents share the same sentiment. We must however travel to Trenton or Belleville for various tests, consults, surgeries etc. In many instances amalgamation has proven very beneficial to County residents. However, transportation is a huge problem in the County. Many seniors or low income families do not have access to transportation to Belleville. The last time I looked, a taxi to Belleville cost $40.00 one way.
President and CEO Mary Clare Egberts has stated that Belleville’s bed occupancy is anywhere from 96% to 104% where Picton’s runs at about 85%. Most of us understand that Belleville needs these beds. Dr. Josh Colby and his fellow physicians have asked QHC to take only four beds in a six month trial plan. We presently have 24 beds of which 22 are medical and 2 are maternity. You can do the math depending on whether we lose 4 or 8 beds. Of course nursing and support staff down the line will be affected.
I suspect that the LHIN has told QHC that there is not additional funding for additional beds so if Belleville needs more beds they must find them at satellite hospitals. Once again PECMH becomes the ‘Sacrifical Lamb’.While on the subject of the LHIN, it is no secret that the Ministry of Health pours 250 MILLION into the 14 LHINS across the province. Locally the LHIN budget for administation alone is 3 to 4 million. Keep in mind that even though we may very well be cut to16 beds at our hospital, the LHIN does not physically provide one single hour of front line patient care. Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak has promised to eliminate the 14 LHINS if his party is in power after the Oct. election.
CEO Mary Clare Egberts insists that when this bed decision comes next month, it will not be another step towards the demise of PECMH. She goes on to say “Our long term plans for QHC PECMH will ensure its vibrant future that we believe will be a model for sustainable, primary rural health in Ont.”. She has stated to me recently that she is absolutely committed to that end. She may have her work cut out for her in convincing many of us. We have become somewhat jaded over that last decade due to numerous service cuts and empty promises from QHC administration. On the positive side, she has done more in her first 10 months to communicate and embrace our community and hospital staff than the previous administration did in 10 years. As are the stakeholders, she and the QHC board of directors are at the mercy of the LHIN. They and the Ministry of Health control the purse strings.
As a community we have options. You as a stakeholder and taxpayer can sit back and do nothing or you may choose to support the PEC Family Health Team by voicing your objection. You may do so by lobbying Georgina Thompson and Paul Huras of the LHIN, Minister of Health Deb Matthews and MPP Leona Dombrosky to release additional funds to QHC so that PECMH may retain their 24 beds. Once again you have the opportunity to STAND UP for your local hospital. The choice is yours!
Fran Renoy, Picton

Filed Under: Letters and Opinion

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  1. Doris Lane says:

    Where are all the people that want to retain our hospital as it is or make it better, we need a rally for the support of the hospital. Does no one care that we are going to lose beds. If you get sick do you want to go to Belleville or do you want to stay in your own hospital and be looked after by the caring, friendly nurses of PECMH?

  2. Lori Smith says:

    Is there no way we can get out of the LHIN system? How is that Napanee is not part of any LHIN but a stand alone Hospital in a small community?

  3. Doris Lane says:

    Fran you are correct, we need to work to save our hospital. It has lost so many beds over the years. We have a great medical and nursing staff and we want to keep them.
    LHINS should go it is of no direct benefit to PECMH

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