The provincial government is challenging the Mega-Hospital plan that was announced to much fanfare in July 2015: In December 2017, Health Minister Dr. Hoskins announced the government would be examining the ongoing use of Ouellette Campus.
More recently, a high ranking local health official revealed to the Windsor Star that the Grace site Urgent Care Centre is almost certainly no longer in the picture. The Ministry of Health has been asking some hard questions, primarily, why are we not making better use of our existing facilities?
Irresponsible use of tax dollars
Demolishing two full-service hospitals (both Ouellette and Met Campuses) is an irresponsible use of tax dollars and shows poor environmental stewardship. The original plan announced by Windsor Regional Hospital makes no effort to reuse infrastructure that was extensively renovated not even twenty years ago.
The Ministry’s suggestion of keeping the emergency department open, and continuing to provide surgeries and clinics at the Ouellette campus is a constructive development, though the extent of the service to be provided is still unclear.
No decisions have been announced about overnight hospital beds. The proposed diagnostics do not include MRI. Also missing from the picture are an ICU, or specialized programs like geriatric, paediatric and neonatal care, as well as cardiac and cancer care.
This leads to the question: Why not keep the Ouellette location functioning as a full service hospital?
With concerns about access for city residents, environmental sustainability, and exorbitant infrastructure costs associated with the current plan, we should consider a completely different option, one that would see the current Ouellette Campus renovated and expanded so it may serve as a full service acute care hospital within the heart of Windsor.
It is an option that would eliminate many of the issues surrounding the current plan to demolish both city hospitals and replace them with a single facility distant from the majority of residents. It is an option that would give doctors who take call a reason to remain in their medical offices, rather than moving them out to County Road 42.
Public involvement needed
This is an important discussion that needs to happen openly with public involvement, not behind closed doors.
Now is a great time for Windsor Regional Hospital administration to recognize the opportunity to bring the community to the table to engage in a process of quality consultation, for what seems to be an ever-evolving hospital plan for our region.
Major construction project in the heart of the city
There is certainly no question that the century old facility needs major work. A large section of the hospital will need to be renovated, some of it demolished and replaced, but it’s not an insurmountable task.
A major renovation and construction project within the heart of our city would be an exciting beacon of renewal in a city that is beginning to turn a new leaf.
We need not look far to see examples of similar major renovations in Ontario. Both St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton and St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto have seen major additions. Cambridge Memorial Hospital is wrapping up a complete transformation of their existing site. Burlington, Brockville and Milton deserve a mention too – the list of hospital renovations and expansions in Ontario is extensive.
Bringing health care closer to Essex County
Keeping Ouellette open not only benefits Windsor residents, but it allows more flexibility in the plan to build a new hospital with even greater reach into Essex County.
Should Ouellette stay open, a new hospital could be located ANYWHERE in the county. All options would be on the table to find a site that best serves all county residents, instead of a compromise that lands the hospital in a location that is inconvenient for so many.
A different plan, one that brings health care closer to Essex County residents and improves upon what currently exists in the heart of Windsor, must be our new objective.