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The fight over delivery of health services at West Lincoln Memorial Hospital in Grimsby and debate over that medical institution’s future is one which should concern all Niagara residents.
The future of the hospital, a crucial provider of health services in West Niagara, has been in doubt since an Oct. 22 announcement by Hamilton Health Sciences that obstetrics and surgical services will be relocated to other sites for 27 months while the West Lincoln facility is renovated.
Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) has tried to assure the public the relocation of services is “temporary’ and will be reversed once the $8.6 million project is completed. The renovations were identified, in a consultant’s report, as being necessary for the hospital to meet accreditation standards.
In an open letter to Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott released earlier this week, the hospital’s professional and medical staff said they were never consulted about the proposal and were informed through a general staff announcement.
Opponents of the relocation of services have said it is an effective closure of the hospital.
“If surgical and obstetrical services are removed, we will not be able to maintain an anesthesia roster,” says the staff’s open letter. “Without an anesthesia roster, we will not be able to support or maintain the emergency room or the (Intensive Care Unit). There is a minimum cluster of services necessary to operate a small community hospital. Stripping away these services is a likely pathway to complete system shut down.”
Following the announcement, a petition against the HHS proposal quickly accrued 18,000 signatures and was presented by Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff in the legislature.
How does the fate of the Grismby hospital affect people living in St. Catharines, Fort Erie, Niagara Falls, Port Colborne, Welland and other far-away municipalities?
As it turns out, it does affect the rest of Niagara, directly and indirectly.