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Petition calls for meeting to help County hospital leave QHC


Prince Edward County has taken a first step to remove its hospital from the Quinte Healthcare Corporation.

Almost 200 citizens boarded four buses to rally for their hospital at Queen’s Park Wednesday. The core committee of the Patrons of our County Hospital (POOCH), reported a short, but good meeting with Health Minister Deb Matthews followed by meetings with local MPP Todd Smith and Conservative party health critic Christine Elliott.

“We met the minister,” reported Leo Finnegan, spokesman for POOCH, to the crowd outside the Legislature in Toronto. “We had a good meeting. We didn’t have a lot of time with her because she had to get to a cabinet meeting but we met with two of her people and we’re optimistic that we’re going to have a further meeting with her.”

The petition – signed by 5,520 citizens –  was handed over to Smith, who said he would present it Thursday in the legislature.

The petition, explained committee member Willem Maas, had to be precise, specific and follow many legislative rules to be received.

It explained the grievance of the citizens is that their hospital “is being moved toward extinction.” It outlined the history of the hospital from its financially responsible state in 1998 as a full service, 42-bed facility, funded and built by County residents, service groups and practitioners, through its forced amalgamation with hospitals in Belleville, Trenton and Bancroft and to its decline over the past 15 years to a minimal clinical centre raising “the spectre of probable elimination altogether.”

The petition requests “an early meeting with the Minister of Health and Long Term Care, Deb Matthews, her deputies as appropriate, MLA Todd Smith and the medical, elected and lay members of the County of Prince Edward.

“Our request for a meeting with the Minister is to highlight the major changes in the past fifteen years and to address the re-establishment of the County Hospital as a not for profit corporation under the governance of an elected Board.”

“She heard what we said,” Finnegan told supporters who came to Queen’s Park. “I said we want to withdraw from QHC. She said ‘You mean you want to de-amalgamate?’ I said Yes, right. We’ll see what happens.”

“It was a very good meeting. Our goal was to have another meeting,” said Wolf Braun, POOCH communications rep. “I think that’s going to happen.”

At the same time, some citizens with POOCH had registered to sit in the legislature.

“We were introduced by our MPP Todd Smith as representatives of Prince Edward County and POOCH,” reported Councillor Robert Quaiff. “We were well received by the PCs, the Liberals and the NDP. So they were very much aware of our presence here, that we have concerns and that they need to have dialogue with us in respect to the wishes of the constituents of Prince Edward County.”

Councillors Jim Dunlop, Terry Shortt, Barry Turpin, Alec Lunn, Kevin Gale and Barb Proctor were also in attendance.

Smith made his way through the crowd hearing concerns from placard-carrying rally participants and also addressed the crowd.

“I understand the importance of the hospital in Prince Edward County,” he said. “I have received letters from most of you that are here today, phone calls, emails, and have met with Leo Finnegan and Dave Gray and Wolf and the entire POOCH organizing committee. I think it’s wonderful that the community has come together in this way, a united voice to fight for your hospital.

“It’s not the first time you have done that. I understand that, but every time that you do, you come out in great numbers and it’s just very, very important that you continue to fight for what’s important to you and that we get the message across to the government here at Queen’s Park.”

Smth said he thought it wonderful the committee was able to get the ear of the health minister “and just get your message in her head. Sometimes we live in a Queen’s Park bubble here in Toronto and we don’t understand what’s going on in our rural areas – how important the hospital is, not just to the health care but also the economic drivers in Prince Edward County as well. Tourism will suffer, your ability to attract doctors will suffer and the tax base will suffer if you don’t have a fully functioning hospital in Prince Edward County.

“I met with a number of you here individually and heard your stories and some of them are absolutely heartbreaking, about the healthcare and what’s lacking in our community… You can imagine how many more heartbreaking stories there will be if we lose what we have now. We cannot afford to have that happen.”

Waiting for health critic Christine Elliott to join the meeting in his office, Smith told the POOCH committee members it will be good to have a concrete plan of how the hospital can function on its own again.

“If funding formulas work and it makes sense, I don’t know why we wouldn’t look at that. However, he also told them he tried to ensure all the allocation for beds now gone from Picton Manor would remain in the County and could only get a promise they would stay within in LHIN, meaning they would end up anywhere from Brockville or Kingston to Picton or Madoc.

“What troubles me most,” Finnegan said, “Is despite what QHC Belleville has said, our doctors were not consulted. Not only that, Elizabeth Christie (Prince Edward Family Health Team president) tried more than once to get information and reports and names about the committees in Belleville during this whole process and never heard anything back.”

Both men agreed it was a shocking situation for a community whose health team, its methods and practices have been held up as a shining example of what should be achieved province-wide.



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  1. Nicole says:

    Hi. I am coordinating McHappy Day for the Picton McDonalds this year. McHappy day is a way to bring a community together to support local children’s charities. This year all funds raised will go directly to the Picton HospitalTo help celebrate this special day, a variety of guests from our community will be there. . We are always looking for volunteers to come out and help support our Hospital and have fun doing it! If you wish to volunteer call Nicole at 613-354-9707 or come out on WEDNESDAY MAY 8th and support our Hospital!

  2. Jan says:

    This could just as easily be PECM Hospital instead of Trenton hospital. Please, read this excellent article:

  3. Wolf Braun says:

    Mr Smith also represents Hastings County which includes Bancroft. His party is on record wanting to eliminate the LHINs. But I recognize your point and that is why P.O.O.C.H. has been neutral from the beginning.

  4. Paul says:

    I’m a little concerned Mr.Smith not only represents Prince Edward County Resident (Prince Edward Memorial Hopsital)but Residents of Belleville (Belleville General Hospital)as well. I guess he must be walking a very fine line here considering the voter base from these areas…

  5. Wolf Braun says:

    There are hundreds of people to thank for making yesterday’s rally happen. We now have more work ahead in preparation for a possible second meeting with the Minister of Health and her staff. We’ll be taking a few days rest and then get busy putting together a team of stakeholders to outline how we propose to run PECMH…. that will be the next question asked by the MOH. We need to be ready for that. Again, thank you all so much for all your hard work…. the people who made sandwiches, the folks who put together the placards, the people who organized our petition, the people who sold tickets – Books and Company, Century 21, ReMax, Royal Lepage, Quinte Isle Real Estate as well as the volunteers who sold P.O.O.C .H. buttons and bus tickets. I hope I haven’t left anyone out. Thx also to the Councilors and Media people who took the day off to travel with P.O.O.C.H.. BRAVO ALL !

  6. Jasmin says:

    When I was living in the area – I would make the half hour drive to Picton JUST for their amazing service! If I were back home – I would be signing this petition!!!

  7. Pat Hyduk says:

    Great coverage, superb photos! They capture the spirit of the enthusiastic people who turned out with humour and dedication for this worthwhile cause.Thank you!

  8. Wolf Braun says:

    Excellent Reporting ! Thank you CountyLive.

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