We have a good plan for West Lincoln Memorial Hospital

By Dr. Mat Noble Wohlgemut

As the Interim Medical Director at West Lincoln Memorial Hospital, I would like to update the community on the status of our hospital, including some current challenges and our ongoing planning for the new hospital.

Over the last seven months, local leaders from the West Lincoln Memorial Hospital site of Hamilton Health Sciences have been working along with their management colleagues on a working group. This working group was given the task of coming up with a plan that would allow us to continue to provide safe, high quality care despite the limitations of an aging hospital.

The group worked through every option we could think of, brought in outside experts to offer their perspective and suggestions, and carefully considered the issues at hand. Although there are still many details being finalized, the working group arrived at a consensus for a plan that would ensure that programs and services remained intact while we do the necessary work to upgrade our facilities.

The first steps in the plan involve creating new space for the storage of sterile supplies in one of our two operating rooms, and in the labour and delivery area. We are still coordinating the many moving parts required to make this happen smoothly, so the dates and duration of the work will be finalized shortly. We are sorting out the best way to make these fixes happen quickly, while minimizing any downtime or impact on programs, community and staff.

The next steps in the plan involve working with the Ministry of Health to upgrade both the endoscope reprocessing and the surgical areas to allow us to return to running our two operating rooms with 24/7 availability as is our norm. We will continue to aggressively recruit and retain nurses to make this aspect of the plan work.

We have all agreed and acknowledged that the best fix to an old hospital is a new hospital. Planning work continues to move forwards on the new hospital. I am hopeful, given the clearly expressed commitment of MPP Sam Oosterhoff and Premier Doug Ford, that we will be able to make that goal a reality as quickly as possible.

The renovations that we are currently planning are necessary. We cannot wait until the new hospital is built. We are doing this work so that we can continue to provide our highly-valued obstetrics and surgical care in our community, and also address the risks of working in an old building. We are all committed to keep programs and services at WLMH through this process and carry them over into our new hospital. Through our collaborative work we have arrived at a good plan that allows us to do exactly that.

We have a tremendous medical and professional staff team that provides excellent care to our community. Our model of care is a wonderful example of what integrated, wrap-around care from cradle to end of life can look like in a small community hospital. This is worth getting right.

Dr. Mat Noble Wohlgemut is the interim site medical director at WLMH

Protecting the model of care at West Lincoln Memorial

By Sharon Pierson

I would like to update our community on work happening to protect and maintain services at West Lincoln Memorial Hospital (WLMH) until we can rebuild it.

Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) leadership and WLMH site physicians are working around the clock, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, to determine how best to address challenges in meeting the appropriate standards of care in the surgical and obstetrical areas of our facility, with the safe storage of supplies being a particular challenge.

All parties are in agreement that we can’t continue in the current state, nor does anyone want to simply close down the impacted services until the new hospital is built. We want to protect the model of care that we are proud of here at WLMH and get back to running two operating rooms and full-time obstetrics.

We are working on how best to fix the problems while minimizing the impact on the community and on our WLMH team. We will share the outcome of this work once our staff, medical leadership, and Ministry partners have identified the best solution and a plan for going forward.

Meanwhile, the infrastructure renewal work announced by the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care last November is ongoing. This work is not directly focused on safety standards in the surgical areas of the hospital, but it will have a positive impact by addressing things like elevator upgrades, plumbing and electrical work throughout the facility. Thank you to all our patients and visitors for putting up with some noise and disruption while these upgrades take place.

We continue to recruit aggressively for the operating room nurses needed at every HHS site, and are very happy to announce that we have made some new hires for WLMH. Training and orientation for the new recruits will take place over the summer and it’s expected that they’ll be ready to begin their roles in fall 2019.

In closing, we are grateful to our staff, medical staff and volunteers for their daily dedication to the outstanding care provided at WLMH, and we are indebted to the community for their ongoing support as well. WLMH has a bright future and we will continue to work together to find solutions to our current challenges until we can cut the ribbon on a brand new hospital.

Sharon Pierson is Vice President Community Medicine and Population Health for Hamilton Health Sciences

Provincial budget confirmed good news for WLMH

By Julia Kamula

“A new hospital is on the way!,” Premier Doug Ford announced at West Lincoln Memorial in November. His commitment was reinforced again last week in the government’s first budget, appropriately entitled Protecting What Matters Most. It’s a very welcome commitment, given the long history of neglect and underfunding the hospital has faced from past governments.

We are thankful to be planning the rebuild and talking with our provincial government partners about getting shovels in the ground as soon as possible. The fact is we cannot wait any longer. The single most important thing we can do to keep the hospital open and thriving for years to come is rebuild it – and soon. Every day it gets harder to manage the risk of trying to provide modern health care in a crumbling 75-year-old building.

For several months, our physicians and administrators have been working together, to assess the hospital services most affected by the aged facility and explore how we might safely continue to provide these services until the new building is open. These issues are serious and work continues to address them. Our first priority must always be the safety of our patients and staff.

Despite the challenges, we are committed to doing everything in our power to plan and build a new WLMH that is home to the services the community has told us are most important: a 24-hour Emergency Department, obstetrics, and surgery, backed up by outpatient clinics and diagnostic services.

We all look forward to the day when we can cut the ribbon on a new WLMH. No matter what obstacles we face today, it’s the long game that is most important. We know there’s going to be a wonderful new hospital to serve the West Niagara community. We look forward to the continued planning that will get us to that bright day when we can welcome everyone to the new WLMH.

Julia Kamula is the Chair of the Hamilton Health Sciences Board of Directors

A message from HHS’ CEO and Board Chair

Hamilton Health Sciences welcomes you to our new website, which will provide regular updates as we plan for the rebuilding of our West Lincoln Memorial Hospital (WLMH) site.

This is an exciting time for our West Niagara communities. Premier Doug Ford has committed to a new hospital and has also provided funding to help maintain the current facility until we can cut the ribbon on a new one.

We know there is a lot of planning work ahead and it is critical that the community be involved throughout the process. We’re committed to keeping this website active with regular updates.

We will also be creating a feedback portal where you can directly provide input or ask any questions. Be sure to check back often to receive the latest updates!

We care deeply about our staff and physicians, patients and our community. We are excited to work closely with you to ensure West Niagara continues to receive the best possible care in the months and years to come.

Rob MacIsaac, President & CEO
Julia Kamula, Board Chair

A new hospital is coming soon

It was the news we were all waiting for when Premier Doug Ford announced “A new hospital is coming soon,” at our West Lincoln Memorial site in November.

On a tour of the building that morning, Premier Ford underscored his commitment by signing it onto a white board, leading staff to joke that they would never allow his writing to be erased.

Premier Ford’s commitment is a significant milestone. We are at an important juncture in West Lincoln Memorial’s history. People are understandably passionate about a hospital where their babies are born, where their neighbours work and where their aging parents receive medical care.

For many months, our community has been passionately involved in a discussion about the future of our facility. Residents raised concerns about the possibility of services being relocated. Others have asked questions about staff resources and the feasibility of keeping the hospital open.

Without a doubt, the aging facility faces a number of challenges. Its crumbling infrastructure gives rise to concerns about our ability to continue indefinitely providing safe care. As a health care provider, our first priority has to always be our patients and the quality of care we provide.

That is why we were so incredibly thankful for Premier Ford’s additional investment of $8.5 million in our current facility. This funding will help to maintain our existing facilities, including the cooling and heating, plumbing and electrical systems, while we do the planning for a new hospital.

Premier Ford also acknowledged the importance of maintaining existing surgical and obstetric services onsite at West Lincoln Memorial Hospital during the transition period to a new facility.

I want to assure you that we are working closely with our dedicated staff and physicians to deliver on the Premier’s commitment.

We know there is still a lot of work to be done and we are looking forward to West Lincoln Memorial’s future. You have my promise that we will listen carefully to feedback from our community as planning for the new hospital proceeds.

We care deeply about our staff and physicians, patients and our community. Thank you for making your voices heard and for advocating so passionately – you have helped secure the future of WLMH.

Rob MacIsaac
President and CEO, Hamilton Health Sciences