Rallying to save Welland hospital

From left, Sue Hotte, of the Save the Welland Hospital campaign, Welland MP Malcolm Allen, Welland MPP Cindy Forster, and Welland Mayor Frank Campion, talk about the impact closing Welland hospital would have on Welland and surrounding communities Friday morning.

From left, Sue Hotte, of the Save the Welland Hospital campaign, Welland MP Malcolm Allen, Welland MPP Cindy Forster, and Welland Mayor Frank Campion, talk about the impact closing Welland hospital would have on Welland and surrounding communities Friday morning.

Hospitals in Port Colborne and Fort Erie suffered a death by 1,000 cuts, and Welland MPP Cindy Forster doesn’t want to see the same thing happen to Welland’s hospital.

Forster, and Welland MP Malcolm Allen, joined Sue Hotte, of the Save the Welland Hospital campaign, and Welland Mayor Frank Campion Friday morning to talk about the impact closing the hospital would have on Welland and surrounding communities.

“I worked 40 years in health care, almost 20 of those years right here at Welland hospital and the last 10 representing nurses across the province, but mainly here in Niagara, for the Ontario Nurses Association. I have seen the devastation of the closing of hospitals across the province,” said Forster.

She said to close the hospital would be unprecedented, especially with respect to the population — somewhere in the area of 120,000 people — of the communities it services.

“There has been no hospital closed anywhere else that I am aware of in Canada with a population of this size. So why are we letting them do this to us? We’re not, we’re not going to let this happen.”

She said people saw what happened in Port Colborne and Fort Erie when services were slowly removed.

“We saw in those smaller communities a death by 1,000 cuts. First they closed the pediatrics unit, and then they said ‘Well, we don’t have enough physicians to have an intensive care unit anymore’ and we saw that close.

She said the two hospital were eventually no longer viable because there were no physicians and nurses.

“We don’t want to see that happen in Welland,” said Forster.

Allen said he wanted to see Welland hospital with the great big, blue and white H on top of it, and nothing less than that.

Like Forster, he disagreed with Dr. Kevin Smith’s report on a new hospital being built in Niagara Falls.

Smith was supervisor of the Niagara Health System and is now its chief executive officer.

“Clearly, Kevin Smith never read the provincial policy statement on growth in the Niagara Region, because what it said was go south,” said Allen

He said the provincial policy shows all the growth coming south in the region, toward Port Colborne.

“So he (Smith) says let’s build a hospital in the northeast part of the peninsula. Absolutely wrong, we need a hospital in the south for all manner of reasons, because this is where the population is going to grow and where industries will relocated, provided of course we have a hospital to say to them we have full services,” said Allen.

He said when a new hospital was proposed for St. Catharines, politicians heard a different plan than the one proposed now.

“It did not include closing the Welland hospital.”

Allen said all three levels of government represented at the announcement would continue to fight to keep the hospital open.

Campion said its critical the hospital be kept open as it is a foundation in the community, one that people rally around.

“That’s what we are doing now, rallying to save our hospital. It’s not something that we want to do, it’s something we need to do. It’s our responsibility today and in the future, it’s our responsibility to make sure we keep our hospital open.”

Campion said Welland hospital saves lives every day.

“If that hospital goes, we’re going to lose lives. The province has to recognize the fact that we need at least three hospitals in Niagara. This is not only a Welland issue, it’s a regional issue, it’s a Port Colborne issue, it’s a Wainfleet issue. We’re all involved. We need to keep it.”

The mayor said twice he’s had to take his children to the hospital from Welland Arena, just across the street.

“One time I had to take my youngest daughter over my shoulder with a broken leg, walk across the street and get into the hospital. I can’t you how many times I’ve seen people go from the arena over to the hospital. We need to have a hospital.”

He said if residents don’t take up the fight, no one will do it for them.

“Let’s keep fighting, tell your friends. The community needs to be involved. This is a community issue, it’s not a political issue, although we have to get into the politics of it. Your voices need to be heard and we will bring those voices forward,” said Campion.

Hotte said the report prepared by Smith on a new south Niagara hospital was flawed, adding it didn’t contain a local needs assessment.

“Nowhere does he discuss the socio-economic demographic composition and health factors of the population.”

She said the report is a big mistake that needs to be wiped out.

“We’re working on trying to make sure that our hospital is one. An urgent care centre does not replace a hospital, you don’t have an ER, the same services …,” Hotte said.

Click Save the Welland Hospital to see its Facebook page.

 

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