Hospi­tal may re­tain ER

The Welland Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - AL­LAN BENNER

Wel­land hospi­tal may be able to keep its emer­gency depart­ment, af­ter all.

Over the past five years, plans for Wel­land hospi­tal pro­gressed from clos­ing the fa­cil­ity com­pletely, to a more re­cent pro­posal to build an ur­gent care cen­tre where the ex­ist­ing full-ser­vice hospi­tal now stands.

But Ni­a­gara Health ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent and chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer An­gela Zan­gari is now say­ing those plans could be chang­ing again.

“We are now eval­u­at­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of 24-hour emer­gency ser­vices with overnight ob­ser­va­tion beds for pa­tients who re­quire mon­i­tor­ing, which would be in ad­di­tion to a num­ber of our ser­vices,” Zan­gari said in an email to Post­media.

For the first time since plans for Ni­a­gara hospi­tals were un­veiled in 2012, Wel­land Mayor Frank Cam­pion said he’s “very en­cour­aged” by progress that has been made.

In ad­di­tion to po­ten­tially re­tain­ing emer­gency ser­vices at the hospi­tal, Zan­gari said it is pro­posed the fa­cil­ity would also in­clude “out­pa­tient sur­gi­cal ser­vices, med­i­cal clin­ics, dial­y­sis, men­tal health and addictions (ser­vices), On­tario Breast Screen­ing Pro­gram ser­vices, lab­o­ra­tory ser­vices and full di­ag­nos­tics in­clud­ing CT scan, ul­tra­sound, X-ray and car­diac di­ag­nos­tics, among a num­ber of other ser­vices.”

A new long-term care fa­cil­ity would re­place the ex­ist­ing ex­tended care unit at the hospi­tal, while en­hanced health and well­ness ser­vices for se­niors would be added to the fa­cil­ity.

Mean­while, plans for a new fullser­vice hospi­tal for Ni­a­gara Falls are pro­ceed­ing as well, and fa­cil­i­ties pro­posed for both com­mu­ni­ties are now be­ing con­sid­ered for fi­nal ap­proval by the Min­istry of Health and LongTerm Care.

Although Cam­pion ac­knowl­edged that fu­ture hospi­tal ser­vices will likely fall short of those now of­fered in Wel­land, he called it a sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment over ini­tial plans that would have com­pletely shut down the hospi­tal.

“We’re go­ing from zero hospi­tal, where we were get­ting noth­ing. At one point, there was no guar­an­tee we’d even get an ur­gent care cen­tre,” said Cam­pion, who spent years work­ing with Wel­land MPP Cindy Forster, the may­ors of Port Col­borne and Wain­fleet, as well as com­mu­nity mem­bers, lob­by­ing for the preser­va­tion of ser­vices at Wel­land hospi­tal.

Cam­pion said re­tain­ing the emer­gency depart­ment was a pri­mary con­cern for south Ni­a­gara com­mu­ni­ties. How­ever, re­tain­ing ad­di­tional ser­vices such as teleme­try and in­ten­sive care are “part of the on­go­ing dis­cus­sions” with hospi­tal ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“That’s where the dis­cus­sion is right now, de­ter­min­ing how that can hap­pen,” he said. “It’s: what makes a sus­tain­able hospi­tal? What ser­vices do we need to main­tain that? And what ser­vices do we need to make it a value to the com­mu­nity?”

Even if the hospi­tal ul­ti­mately lacks some of the ser­vices cur­rently avail­able, he said it could be ex­panded in the fu­ture to meet the needs of south Ni­a­gara’s grow­ing com­mu­ni­ties.

Zan­gari said she is look­ing for­ward to up­dat­ing the com­mu­nity on the project, when new in­for­ma­tion be­comes avail­able.

“We have had some very pos­i­tive dis­cus­sions with Wel­land Mayor Frank Cam­pion over the last sev­eral months and ap­pre­ci­ate his ad­vo­cacy for health care for Wel­land res­i­dents. We will con­tinue to work with Mayor Cam­pion, the com­mu­nity and all of our stake­hold­ers as we move for­ward with our plan­ning,” she said.

Cam­pion at­tributes the re­cent suc­cess to meet­ing with Health Min­is­ter Eric Hoskins a few times since he was ap­pointed to the job in 2014.

Dur­ing those meet­ings, Cam­pion said, south Ni­a­gara com­mu­nity rep­re­sen­ta­tives made a “busi­ness case” for the preser­va­tion of hospi­tal ser­vices in the com­mu­nity. “He lis­tened.” In com­par­i­son, Cam­pion re­called bang­ing his “head against the wall” dur­ing pre­vi­ous meet­ings with Health Min­istry of­fi­cials, who re­sponded to con­cerns, the mayor said, by say­ing “‘That’s great, but we’re clos­ing the Wel­land hospi­tal.’”

He said sig­nif­i­cant progress has been made dur­ing months since, although it has not been widely pub­li­cized as the re­sult of an agree­ment between the par­ties in­volved.

“That’s why you haven’t heard any­thing,” Cam­pion said. “We agreed that we would keep this sort of a pri­vate con­ver­sa­tion un­til we felt we were get­ting some­where that we would then be able to bring it for­ward. I think we’re get­ting close to that point now.”

LAURA BAR­TON/WEL­LAND TRI­BUNE

Wel­land's hospi­tal may re­tain its emer­gency depart­ment, af­ter years of lob­by­ing ef­forts to pre­serve its ser­vices.

Zan­gari

Cam­pion

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