Hospital clinic cuts service: a sign of things to come?

The Leamington and District Memorial Hospital ended 7 day a week service at its Pelee Island clinic on July 1.  Also gone is its 24 hour a day on-call service.

The mayor of Pelee Island told  the Windsor Star it's "only a matter of time" before someone dies because of recent cuts to urgent health care in the community.  People on Pelee Island, whether they are residents or visitors, have the right to the same health care services as everyone else in Ontario." 

As of July 1, the Pelee Island clinic - now a nursing station - operates only eight hours per day, five days a week, providing primary care, urgent care and home care. It's closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Those hours will remain in effect as part of a 60-day trial period.  To make matters worse, the clinic may be open only one day a week in the off-season, from December until April. 

The decision to reduce health care services on the island was made in May  and based on the community's small population, Masse told the Star.  "But the people who made those decisions don't live here and they're making decisions based on things they have no clue about," he said.

There have been 11 emergencies on Pelee Island since July 1.

As elsewhere, hospital cuts have driven up the need for (municipally run) Emergency Medical Services.  EMS Chief Randy Mellow said that to meet the new demands,  the municipal EMS budget for the island would have to almost double from $150,000 in 2011 to $290,000.

A meeting between the Pelee Island mayor, county council, and the Ontario Health Minister is scheduled for the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference in August. County Council is also seeking a more immediate meeting with the Minister.

A sign o' things to come?
While the hospital funding squeeze forced significant cuts in 2010, fewer high profile cuts have occurred this year -- presumably connected to the upcoming provincial election.  

Given the health funding plans of the biggest parties, I expect much more of this after the election.  

 (Unless we organize.)

Leftwords will now go quiet for a summer break for a couple of weeks.  Have a great summer! (And see you at the OHC rally for health care September 13th at Queen's Park!)

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