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‘Little has been done to calm community fears’ about Picton hospital

Larry Matheson, left, sitting at the QHC annual meeting with long-time foundation member Don Stanton. Fran Renoy photo

Larry Matheson, left, sitting at the QHC annual meeting with long-time foundation member Don Stanton. Fran Renoy photo

In an impassioned speech at the Quinte Health Care Corporation’s annual meeting, Larry Matheson, Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation immediate past president told the board of directors and a handful of citizens that fundraising has dropped by 50 per cent.

“In the 30 years that we have been the trustees of the fund raising effort, we’ve raised more than $10 million to support our hospital. In a community of about 25,000 people, that’s an astonishing accomplishment…and demonstrates clearly the commitment of the people of Prince Edward County to their local hospital,” Matheson said.

“Never before have we seen such reluctance to giving, spawned by this ‘wait and see’ attitude that is threading its way through out traditionally strong sources of support,” he said. “Our citizens are concerned that if they give in this current climate that their gifts are going down the road to bolster expansions and increase staff at another facility.

“Amalgamation has not been kind to our hospital.
Under amalgamation, we’ve seen our services greatly diminished. Continued funding cutbacks, patient beds closed, medical services eliminated, nursing and other medical staff laid off…in short, these decisions …over which we have no control…have left our hospital a shell of its former self.”

He noted the foundation was blindsided by the QCH announcement to close maternity services. Based on QHC’s approved medical equipment budget presented to the foundation last June, funds were being raised for two fetal monitors for the maternity department.  Those funds, he said, will be placed in a special account “until we can determine how best to manage them. They were given to us in good faith and we won’t let that trust be broken.”

He told the QHC directors it is no wonder that rumours are rampant that QHC’s underlying intention is to close Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital.

“QHC can deny this all you like but your actions have created that impression…and little has been done to calm community fears,” he said.  “Our citizens are concerned that if they give in this current climate that their gifts are going down the road to bolster expansions and increase staff at another facility.  ”

He also said recent announcements that a number of gifted medical professionals are leaving the County, due in large part to the downsizing of our hospital services, have fuelled the flames.”

He said the foundation “will continue to remind the citizens of Prince Edward County that we are the trustees of their gifts to the hospital and that we take that job very seriously. We will assure them that their gifts will support health care in our community. We have no doubt that this will be a year that will require our most dedicated efforts and our most creative abilities, but with the support of the community, we are confident that we will prevail.”

Rev. Al Reimers, a member of Patrons of our County Hospital (POOCH) asked the board to consider the establishment of a citizen-led committee elected by county residents to manage daily operations of the hospital.

“That action would go far toward allaying the feelings of animosity that have fermented during the winter of our discontent. You could go further and experiment: give that committee a four- or five-year mandate, and responsibility for a proportionate share of the budget, with the understanding that failure would result in return to your direct supervision but success could lead on to de-amalgamation.

He also suggested transforming some space created by cuts into long-term care beds to help address a limited supply of long-term care spaces in the county, made worse most recently, with the closure of Picton Manor.

“We have also two main practical concerns that you can begin to deal with: our transportation problem and our lack of long-term care beds. We have no public transportation services at all. We have a lot of citizens who don’t have cars, and many who are on pensions or disability incomes, and taxis are expensive – anywhere from $50 to $100 or more for a round trip. It all depends on where home is.

“Now to long-term care: I know an older couple who are in a home in Amherstview, because there is no place for them in the County. The wife is recovering from a hip operation and not able to care for her husband, who has cancer; but since Picton Manor was closed, we are short of long-term beds. Since we are dealing with the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, it should be possible to fill the empty rooms in Memorial Hospital with long-term beds at least until more local facilities are built. You could pass that on to the oversight committee.”

“We realize that we must work with the Prince Edward Health Alliance, the Family Health Team, our County Council’s Health Care Advisory Committee, Quinte Health Care and the LHIN before any positive suggestions can bring desirable changes. We are grateful for the opportunity you have given us this evening and stand ready to join any conversation to which you may invite us.”

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  1. Wolf Braun says:

    My wife and I will continue to donate to the Foundation BUT we will add a proviso that the donation will stay at Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital and not to other QHC sites.

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