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QHC officially closes maternity services at Picton hospital

QHC announced today it can no longer provide maternity services at Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital after August 2013.

QHC first announced it would probably need to close the maternity service at PECMH in January. Based on initial feedback from the Prince Edward Family Health Team and community, the hospital corporation has been working with PEC physicians and nurses to determine if there was a way that the service could remain in Picton.

“Unfortunately, despite their efforts the group has not been able to come up with any solutions that we felt were relatively cost-neutral and sustainable while maintaining the same quality of care, so we have now reached the point where we needed to make the final decision to close the service,” said Katherine Stansfield, vice-president & Chief Nursing Officer. “This was a very difficult decision and we recognize it won’t be well received by the community. The maternity service at PECMH has been a valued and respected part of the hospital for decades. Unfortunately, we can no longer provide consistent 24-hour coverage with nurses who have the specialized skills and training to provide obstetrical care.”

QHC has long stated that it would continue to provide maternity services in Picton as long as there were adequate nursing and physician resources to safely provide the services. Stanfield said there have been three times over the past four months where nurses were not available to help deliver babies and any laboring women were automatically sent to BGH to deliver.

However, The Times reports QHC Belleville found itself unable to provide adequate services earlier this month and was forced to transport five babies to Kingston hospital.  Stansfield told the Times “We believed we had pediatrician coverage— but at the end of the day we didn’t.” BGH has struggled to maintain a full complement of pediatricians for many years. Times story, click here

Stanfield, in the release about closing Picton maternity, said the gaps in nursing coverage increase in July and August and there are additional staffing changes in September that will make the maternity service at PECMH unsustainable.

County doctors Lisa Forster and Darren Lett notified their patients earlier this month that they will be leaving PECMH due to the changes at the hospital and will be closing their practice in Picton as of August 28th. Dr. Forster also delivers babies and Dr. Lett is currently head of the emergency department at PECMH.

QHC has also indicated it is considering closing the endoscopy program. That announcement has not yet been made. With endoscopy also cut, PECMH will be left with 12 beds, an emergency department and a radiology department.  PECMH will be losing 40 per cent of its beds as opposed to Belleville where five per cent of the beds will be lost.

In an email,  Dr Forster  said “We are saddened by the series of cuts that have happened at QHC over the last eight years. The current practice environment is much different from what we came to in 2005 and the future situation is very uncertain. We have felt included in the community and have worked hard here to care for our patients. We know that County residents support their hospital and care providers and we wish you strength to continue the fight for services here.”

“While options such as providing necessary training to all nurses were explored, the low volume of births makes it difficult for those nurses to maintain competence in these skills over time,” explained Stansfield in a news release. “The number of women choosing to deliver at PECMH has been steadily declining, driven by women’s choice of where to deliver and population trends. There are now less than 35 births per year in Picton.”

“Many rural hospitals in Ontario and Canada have stopped providing maternity services over the past 10 years, with a notable exception being hospitals that are significantly more remote than PECMH,” said Dr. Dick Zoutman, QHC Chief of Staff. “We are hopeful that the Prince Edward Family Health Team will continue to provide pre-natal and post-natal care in their offices through a shared care model with the Belleville-based obstetricians. They are also always welcome and encouraged to deliver their patients’ babies at Belleville General Hospital.”

Women who had planned to deliver at PECMH after August 2013 should speak to their family physician about the options available to them.

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  1. Wolf Braun says:


    Western societies, including Canada, have accorded corporations with the same rights as individual people. This begs the question what corresponding obligations do corporations have to ALL peoples?

    It seems to me that corporate citizenship entails a balance of rights and responsibilities. But that’s not the reality with Quinte Health Care.

    When we look at the history of corporate responsibility as far back as 1981 in toto constitutes responsibility to society…. business and society have a symbiotic relationship: the long term viability of the corporation depends upon its responsibility to the society of which it is a part. And the well-being of society depends upon profitable and responsible business enterprise.

    However by 1997, the purpose of corporations has narrowed… the principal objective of a business is to generate economic returns to its owners….in the case of QHC, it’s owners are the provincial government. It is NOT the people of the province. Even though we pay heavy taxes for all costs related to health care in Ontario. THIS NEEDS TO BE REVERSED.

    Go to and voice your concerns about Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital and your concerns about how amalgamation has failed you.

  2. Wolf Braun says:

    P.O.O.C.H. has finally received a reply from the Minister of Health, Deb Matthews. Here is the key phrase from her letter….

    ” the de-amalgamation of any of the QHC sites is not being considered at this time ”

    ‘At this time’… P.O.O.C.H. will have to take this to the Premier and turn our objective POLITICAL. All of us will have to show the Premier just how determined County residents can be.

    We begin tomorrow with a deputation to our Mayor and Council. Next we will have a float in the Canada Day parade in Wellington. And then we plan for a big political push for September 9th when the Legislature returns after the summer session.

  3. Mark says:

    Because the $$$$ rules all. LCBO’s make money and hospitals cost money. The Ontario debt is unsustainable. At some point soon the cost just to service this debt will demand cuts to service like we have never seen. At that point you will see thousands leave this province. If interest costs were a Ministry it would be the 3rd largest Ministry. And this is with record low interest rates. When they rise Ontario will be literally bankrupt. Decisions like the Green Energy Act just worsen the already critical conditon. When we need work and investment let’s raise energy costs by 50% and drive every remaining manufacturing job out of the province. It’s just plain stupidity. The smart folks will plan their retirement elsewhere.

  4. Jo Anne Slaven says:

    I find it rather odd that the Ontario government has to cut back on our health care, yet they have the money to build three new LCBO stores in the county. Wellington, Rossmore, and Picton are all getting brand new liquor stores this year.

  5. Marnie says:

    The writing is on the wall. Today it is all about regionalization and going bigger, not better in most cases. Remember when Picton had a customs office, a Sears office (we just lost that again), lots of men’s and women’s clothing stores, three or four shoe stores, two department stores, three furniture stores, numerous gas stations and new car dealerships and a bus that ran from Picton to Belleville and back about four times a day. We can fight for our hospital and we have been doing that but it’s plain to see that no one is listening. Many services have disappeared from our county in recent years. Moving may be a solution for some but for those with serious health issues the closest help has always been Belleville or Kingston. Having to go to these cities for treatment is nothing new. We might as well sit tight, fight to keep what we can and accept the fact that things will never again be as they were.

  6. Wolf Braun says:

    Moving out of the County is not a solution. It’s a band-aid.

    beach says: “I love it here but it’s getting to be a big Decision on staying or moving out with the Drs.”

    Our government’s have lost sight of the PURPOSE and PRINCIPLES of government. We need to demand that they work for “ALL” people, not just some special interest groups.

    Why not check out and get involved ! Unless people get involved and stand up for democracy not much will change. And moving isn’t a solution.

  7. beach says:

    We moved to the County in May 2009 on the premise of “No Wind Turbines” and a secure Hospital in Picton!!! The main Reason (Medical Requirements) we adopted the County.
    When the hell is this Dalton McGuinty 9 year Screw up going to end??? for Ontario and the County??.
    I cannot believe the social changes and separation conflicts added to a previously very cohesive COUNTY!!!
    I’m an old Vet newly re-located to Paradise (The County–so I thought)but I am quickly being confused (old timers??)
    Where are the other “political parties “>> I know Todd and Daryl are County Supportive)
    Sorry for the Vent!!!!
    I love it here but it’s getting to be a big Decision on staying or moving out with the Drs.

  8. Wolf Braun says:

    It’s a fable Richard ! Your friend is wrong.

    Letting smaller wrongs just slip by or of falling into a pattern of small seemingly harmless sins rather than disturb ones complacency enough to address important issues, thereby allowing evil to grow.

    I’m not buying your analogy Richard. What our government and QHC is doing to our hospital is evil. 🙁

  9. Richard Parks says:

    “Boiling water”. A friend explained this to me yesterday and it makes a lot of sense. We as a society/community will not accept being thrown into boiling water( abrupt change from the norm) but if we are placed in warm water that is slowly brought to a boil we will adapt and accept
    the change. Look around. It happens every day.

  10. Wolf Braun says:

    ““This was a very difficult decision and we recognize it won’t be well received by the community.”

    Cutting costs is not a difficult decision. Growing revenue is difficult. Unfortunately, that’s not something QHC is focused on.

    We need to remember that until amalgamation PECMH was an effective and efficient hospital that served this community well. Except for one or two occasions PECMH’s bottom line was in the black. That’s not a claim that BGH can make.

    Unfortunately, the politicians at Queen’s Park are deaf to what the electorate needs and wants. Instead, they bungle along spending billions on eHealth, gas plant closures and of course executive salaries and bonuses.

    I encourage everyone in Prince Edward County who wants our hospital back to spend some time this summer writing or emailing the Premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynn. If Ms.Wynn is serious about looking after rural Ontario let’s see if that’s real or not. When you write make sure to copy everyone in her Cabinet. If you need names and addresses you can find them here…. If you need additional assistance, P.O.O.C.H. can help by going here….

  11. Doris Lane says:

    Health care has become a joke–not much
    care in Health Care
    People will just have to stay home and wait to die.
    Sort of a third world country we have in the county
    Lets all go to Napanee

  12. Susan says:

    this istruly a sad time for us all…makes me so angry and frustrated…please bigger is NOT always better…as the Inwoods found out with the birth of their daughter..don’t blame them for staying in Kingston…no ped on duty…what the …. is that?

  13. Susan Rose says:

    Now what?? Do we just wait for the other shoe to drop…

  14. Fran Renoy says:

    This is yet one more nail in the coffin of PECMH with the closing of maternity by the QHC Board and senior administration. The operating room at PECMH will probably meet the same fate next year when the new operating rooms at BGH are completed. This is a very well written article
    by Countylive.Thank you Sue and Amber.

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