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Wallaceburg Sydenham Hospital & SOS
MapleCityStar - April 15, 2009, 05:21 PM

The town of Wallaceburg has been rocked by plant closures and job losses. Now, a report recommends the closure of the Emergency Room in the hospital that money raised by local citizens helped to build. Many fear that this marks the slippery slope towards complete hospital closure and further erosion of town identity in an amalgamated municipality.

Instead of accepting responsibility for hospital issues, the provincial government has delegated oversight to the Local Integrated Health Networks (LIHNs). The province claims more money than ever is there for hospital funding, and is content to have hospital boards and LIHN decide how it's spent.

For the most part, hospital boards argue that public oversight of such budgets is neither mandated nor warranted.

This has served to place political decision-making out of the reach of voters, with an organization that's insulated and unresponsive to the citizens receiving the services and footing the bill. The provincial government can then wash their hands of decisions that are unpopular or damaging.

Ultimately, nobody is accountable to the public.

In defence of the Sydenham Hospital, an advocacy group was spearheaded by Jeff Wesley. "Save Our Sydenham" or SOS has been meeting with the public, hospital officials, and LIHN. Over 11,000 people signed a petition in support of the mission.

The group is still struggling to get the attention of hospital administration and politicians. While Conservative MP Bev Shipley has come onside with a comprehensive letter to Gary Switzer detailing his concerns, the mayor of Chatham-Kent would rather let Wallaceburg residents fend for themselves, and hospital administration have consistenly avoided meeting the public.

Was the amalgamation of St. Joseph's Hospital, Public General Hospital, and Sydenham District Hospital in the public's interest? Is it working? Is the Erie St. Clair LIHN fulfilling its mandate to plan and fund health services locally by members living in the served communities? Are the people being heard?

Let's hear what you have to say...

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