HHS Announces 1 Year of Change to WLMH Obstetrics

HHS Announces 1 Year of Change to WLMH Obstetrics

Hamilton Health Sciences announced on Friday, September 27th that WLMH’s obstetrics would not be available for natural births until fall 2020. 

More details on the announcement can be found at HHS Update on WLMH Labour & Delivery.

This latest announcement is very disappointing and causing great concern within West Niagara’s community and WLMH staff. The impact of only having planned C sections and gynecological surgeries at WLMH for a year will impact patients and their babies and families. It will also likely cause lasting impacts on WLMH’s well-respected obstetricians, anesthesiologists, midwives and nurses. 

Losing the obstetrics for natural births for a year means losing a service. In May the community was provided strong assurance by senior management at HHS that there was a plan that would allow the newly renovated obstetrics ward – now complete – to reopen at the end of September with one operating room. The Niagara Health System St. Catharines Site would be the backstop for the potential few high-risk cases. What happened?

Concerns of the community (Feature Article, Mike’s Opinion), WLMH Advisory Committee through Chair Andrew Smith (WLMH Advisory Committee Chair – Concerns) and West Niagara’s Mayors in a Letter to the Editor have been published in the recent News Now edition. Town of Lincoln Mayor Sandra Easton, Town of Grimsby Mayor Jeff Jordan and Township of West Lincoln Mayor David Bylsma call the OB closure “devastating” and that “It means we have to work even harder as a community to ensure the future of WLMH is protected. We can accept no other outcome, and we are ready and willing to do our part to ensure the ultimate success of a new WLMH.” Other media coverage of the HHS announcement can be found at WLMH renovations could affect expectant parents.

Obstetrics is an important part of what makes WLMH special along with all the other great services and staff. To lose this now – just when we are waiting for provincial approval to move forward on more needed renovations and importantly the rebuild, is a setback. Infrastructure Ontario just released funded project budgets and <$200M is earmarked for WLMH’s rebuild – see details at  Provincial funds announced for WLMH rebuild.

Our West Niagara community needs to hear great funding news from the province as soon as possible and reassurance from both the province and HHS that they are fully committed and moving forward to the rebuild of WLMH and importantly to get services back to the hospital as soon as possible. A year of no natural births at WLMH is hard to take – and still have confidence in those who operate and govern and their promises to keep services at the hospital and move quickly to the rebuild.

We can only hope the hospital community and West Niagara can deal with this and not lose hope. The Save & Rebuild Community Action Group will continue to advocate for WLMH to get obstetrics and endoscopy back, get to 2 ORs and get to the rebuild as soon as possible. 

We are continuing to ask our community to use our hospital’s services and asking our doctors, nurses and supporting staff to please stay in the face of uncertainty. WLMH has been an exceptional model of care and great place to work. 

We are committed to stay the course to ensure the long-term future of WLMH and do not intend to stand down until there are shovels in the ground and the hospital rebuild is complete!