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Remain vigilant about local health care

Aug. 6/11: Scott Rowand passed away approximately two weeks ago at age 57. In late 2005, Mr Rowand was the healthcare consultant sent in by the then Liberal Minister of Health George Smitherman to look at the governance of Quinte Healthcare. The McGuinty Government had introduced a policy aimed at increased accountability by hospitals and their boards. With the advent of this policy called Hospitals Annual Planning Submission (HAPS), the situation at QHC had deteriorated. Consequently in Sept 2005 the QHC Board sent a letter to Minister Smitherman advising him that they wished to amend their submission and were requesting an increase to their base budget of 6.8 million alleging under funding by that amount due to the operation of four sites (recently renamed HOSPITALS).

The original submission had called for cuts to the operating room, maternity, lab, three bed special care unit and mammography at PECMH. This hospital eventually lost its lab (replaced by Point of Care machines), special care unit and some operating room procedures. Colonoscopies and gastroscopies are the only procedures now being performed. In the last 5 years the Emergency Dept. has been updated along with a new Digital Radiography Dept..We are hopeful that in the future that PECMH will have Digital Mammography as both Belleville and Trenton already have this service. We have lost some beds with the possibility of losing more in the future if it is felt that these beds are needed in Belleville. PECMH has 21 beds.

When Minister Smitherman released Scott Rowand’s report on QHC Governance in June of 2006 at the Crystal Palace he stated that Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital had “a very bright future”. However you only had to read Rowand’s 36 page report to realize that the plan was to model PECMH after Bancroft’s hospital. I believe in political jargon this is referred to as “speaking out of both sides of your mouth”.

Five years after Mr Rowand’s report was released we now have a new Quinte Healthcare Board of Directors and CEO. Both Chair Brian Smith and CEO Mary Clare Egberts have stated that there will always be a hospital in PR.ED. County. I take them at their word; however, we all are cognizant of the fact that the LHINS and Ministry of Health make the final decisions and have in fact closed or cut services in many small rural hospitals across Ontario.

A provincial election is less than 60 days away. I encourage everyone to attend as many “all candidates meetings” as possible and ask each of the candidates how they will help to preserve and support our small local rural hospital with its present services and in fact add services. The Prince Edward Healthcare Alliance has proposed a plan to Minister of Health Deb Mathews and if approved, this could result in the building of a brand new hospital in 8-10 years where many healthcare and service providers would provide services around the patient in one building. Question those candidates hoping to represent you at Queen’s Park as to how they will help to make this plan a reality.

You may think that you are only one voice at the polls but collectively we can make a difference. A good example of this was when Prince Edward County residents made up 74% of Quinte Healthcare Corporation membership even though they only represented 20% of the 150,000 stakeholders in the QHC catchment area. You might remember that the 500-600 democratic memberships were dissolved by an Order of Council when the McGuinty Government sent in supervisor Graham Scott. This shows the passion that Prince Edward County residents have for their hospital but it also demonstrates the power that the existing government can yield if individuals question their policies. The McGuinty government has failed miserably at making rural hospitals as viable as possible and have in fact closed many and/or cut services. However, it was the Conservative Harris government that in 1998 sealed the fate of many rural hospitals. Only you can be the judge when you go to the polls on Oct.6.


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About the Author: Fran Renoy has lived in the County for forty years so considers herself almost a native. Both she and her husband Bill consider themselves very fortunate to live in beautiful Prince Edward County. She worked at PECM hospital for thirty years as a x-ray technologist,retiring in 1998.She has a very strong passion for her local hospital and encourages others to speak up and not be afraid to do so if they feel that services are being eroded.

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  1. Luke Bailey says:

    Hello Fran,

    The Toronto Star is looking for community correspondents for the 2011 Ontario election to report on their communities, and we think you would be a great candidate!

    You can read more information and apply by visiting the website below:

    -Luke Bailey

  2. Doris Lane says:

    Since both the present LIberals and the Harris Conservatives have not done much to help our local hospitals maybe it is time for an entirely new party. Noted in the weekly paper that Dr Robert McMurtry who is an outstanding physican with many credits to his name, convened a Town Hall with Treat Hull. Treat is the Green Party candidated for Prince Edward Hastings and has been active for over a year speaking and writing articles. He seems to have a good stance on health care as well as other topics.

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