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How Napanee Hospital escaped amalgamation in 1998

At a time when Prince Edward County Memorial and Trenton Memorial Hospital are being decimated, the question is often asked “How did Napanee Hospital escape amalgamation?”

I spoke with a friend of mine, Mike Dollack, to ask him exactly how his community was able to keep its hospital as a stand alone hospital. Mike was a principal of the Napanee High School and a long-time board member of his local hospital. When it was very obvious that the Napanee Hospital would be forced into amalgamation the community immediately went to work.  A physician that worked for the Kingston  Frontenac and Lennox and Addington Health unit along with Tom Jindra, manager of the Goodyear plant and Mike became co chairs of the committee to save their hospital from amalgamation. Goodyear was very influential stating that they would not have considered locating in Napanee if there was not a full service hospital there. The committee asked stakeholders from the outlying areas such as Tamworth, Flinton and Cloyne to write testimonials to Dr. Duncan Sinclair and his restructuring committee.

Many said that they would have to travel very long distances to Belleville or Kingston for healthcare. You only need to look at  a map of Prince Edward County to see that we share this same geographic problem.

The committee then pointed out to the government that their hospital was not started with Ministry of Health funds when it was built in the 1950s but rather with donations  and  weekly pay deductions of workers in businesses. They went on to say that the Ministry of Health could not arbitrarily make a decision without involving the community.

I might point out that PECMH was started almost 100 years ago with donations from  the residents and continues to purchase medical equipment due to the generosity of the community. As far as the QHC board and administration consulting the stakeholders and medical community, many feel that the consultation process was less than optimal.

Mike told me that he and his colleagues went on cable TV and spoke to numerous service clubs to get their help. He said that one thing that they had in their favour was that Kingston General Hospital supported them.  The reason being that many medical residents come to Napanee Hospital  from KGH. These are all medical residents who hope to go into Family Practice  and find that they have invaluable training with the local physicians. This same program applies to PECMH and our local doctors who have been involved with the residency program from KGH for over 50 years.

Mr Dollack could not emphasize enough to me that you must have unusually strong community support and sell to the community the rationale for keeping our hospital strong and in fact adding services and not taking them away. I believe that we do have the expertise in the County to develop a business plan. However it is essential that this committee involve the medical community. It is also essential that the mayor, council, businesses and service clubs are “on board”.

For the last 15 years that we have been fighting to keep our hospital vibrant,  the majority  that have led the fight have been seniors. There are two other younger generations that perhaps would like to help Keep Their Hospital Strong”. You only need to to read Al Capon’s epilogue in “This House Of Healing PECMH” to realize that that the community of Pr. Ed.County put up a valiant fight in 1998 to keep PECMH as a “stand alone ” hospital. Perhaps now 15 years later and many service cuts later  the community will be even more determined .

Fran Renoy, Picton

Filed Under: Letters and OpinionNews from Everywhere Else

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  1. Jan says:

    Thanks Adam for your comments. Arthur Ronald is the person who could give Prince Edward County and Quinte West some excellent pointers on how to keep a hospital as a stand-alone!

  2. Adam Bramburger says:

    Good catch Jan, Arthur Ronald was a very bright executive and I think he was far ahead of his time in thinking about how his hospital could work with the Kingston hospitals more but maintain its independence through specialized service. He was talking a lot about collaboration with community partners and health-care campuses long before those were the buzzwords they are today.

  3. Jan says:

    Ronald Arthur, the retired CEO of Napanee hospital is the person who should be given full credit for Napanee hospital remaining as a stand-alone hospital. I am very surprised that Mike Dollack failed to acknowledge the importance and effort put forth by Mr. Arthur. If it
    had not been for Mr. Arthur, Napanee hospital would have been consumed by larger hospitals! I’m sure others helped in the fight to prevent amalgamation but this picture is a
    bit distorted.

  4. Marnie says:

    Jim fought Doris. If he were our mayor today he would still be fighting right along with John Williams.

  5. Wolf Braun says:

    Thanks for sharing Fran. 🙂

  6. Doris Lane says:

    I was not in Picton when the amalgamation took place but it was probably Jim Taylor who was the mayor and I do not think PEC fought strong enough.

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