West Lincoln Memorial Hospital – Alexandra Heck/Metroland
The potential closure of Grimsby’s West Lincoln Memorial Hospital (WLMH) would have a profound impact on Winona and eastern Stoney Creek, says a longtime volunteer.
Lois Hanson, who has volunteered in the hospital coffee shop for more than a decade, is working to raise awareness of a campaign aiming to save and rebuild the hospital.
Earlier this year it was revealed the hospital needs $8.6 million in provincial funding to bring its surgical and obstetrics departments up to Accreditation Canada standards.
“It’s a great place to volunteer,” said Hanson, a senior from Winona. “If we lose our hospital, there’ll be nothing from St. Catharines to Hamilton.”
Hanson added that she’s also spent time in the hospital as a patient, where she received wonderful care from staff.
After speaking to several families on Halloween night unaware of the hospital’s existence, Hanson is hoping to raise awareness.
She’s been actively distributing signs urging Hamilton Health Sciences officials to save and rebuild the Grimsby hospital.
Stoney Creek Ward 10 Coun. Maria Pearson said she’s heard from constituents concerned about the potential closure of the hospital. Pearson’s newly expanded ward will include Winona – a community previously part of Glanbrook Coun. Brenda Johnson’s constituency – once council sessions resume in December.
“It’s faster for them to go to West Lincoln than Joseph Brant,” Pearson noted.
The Save and Rebuild West Lincoln Memorial Hospital resident group may have reason for optimism following a community meeting on Nov. 13.
Tony Joosse, co-chair of the residents group, said area residents were ready to celebrate — after initially learning on Oct. 22 that WLMH would lose both surgical and obstetric services for more than two years while upgrades are underway.
But despite the collective sigh of relief among residents who feared the plan would mean ultimately lead to the hospital’s closure, Joosse said the community’s fight is not over.
“We have to keep the gas pedal down,” he said.
Joosse said it took a substantial response from the community — a petition signed by 18,000-plus residents, more than 1,000 residents attending three community meetings to discuss concerns, as well as business and yard signs opposing the plans — before HHS administration agreed to work with local hospital staff to find ways to keep the services running.
– With files from Allan Benner, St. Catharines Standard