Renovation & Service Update: Sept 27

Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) has a plan to rebuild its West Lincoln Memorial Hospital (WLMH) site with a firm commitment from the Ontario government to provide the necessary funding to do so quickly.

Until the new facility is ready, HHS and the Ontario government are investing in critical infrastructure upgrades and renovations to keep the current building safe for everyone, and to allow WLMH to return all services to full capacity as quickly as possible. As these upgrades and renovations are being completed, WLMH has only one operating room (OR) available until fall 2020, resulting in the need for difficult decisions about how to organize the services that rely on that OR.

The emergency department, day clinics, inpatient care and diagnostics are not affected by the renovations and continue to function while construction is happening. Further, WLMH can keep scheduling elective surgery, including elective C-sections and gynecological surgeries in the one OR.

However, for WLMH to be able to continue offering these services, the hospital needs to temporarily move most of its low-risk labor and deliveries to other nearby hospitals. Family doctors, midwives and obstetricians who care for patients at WLMH have designed a plan to continue providing care to their patients, which involves caring for patients at WLMH, Niagara Health and McMaster University Medical Centre (MUMC). WLMH is grateful to its system partner Niagara Health and colleagues at MUMC for maintaining the continuity of care for patients in West Niagara.

This plan will allow WLMH to continue serving expectant mothers and families in West Niagara in the safest way possible while the hospital upgrades and renovates so that it can meet all the required standards for safe patient care in our hospital.

Doctors and midwives will coordinate care plans with their patients directly to determine the best individual option.

While this is difficult for our staff and communities, this is the best plan in light of the real and significant constraints of WLMH’s aging facility. At the end of the day, WLMH will do whatever is necessary to maintain the highest standards of patient safety.

QUOTES

“As healthcare providers, it’s our job to put patient safety first. We must eliminate every preventable risk to our patients, even if when it means making tough choices. The critical upgrades we are making at WLMH limit our ability to provide a safe and full labour and delivery service until construction is complete. We are grateful to all staff, physicians and midwives, and our system partners, for finding a way to meet the needs of patients in West Niagara until the renovation work is completed next year.” – Dr. Michael Stacey, Executive Vice President Academic and Chief Medical Executive

“We know how important obstetrical services are to the community, which is why we exhausted every option to keep the service here. Although there will be some changes for patients and providers, the planning group agreed on a model that is the best option in difficult circumstances. When we are approved for our OR renovation, we plan on returning to full obstetrical, OR, and endoscopy services at WLMH.”– Dr. Mat Noble Wohlgemut, WLMH Interim Medical Lead

“We were faced with difficult choices due to limited resources. At the end of the day, our focus is to maintain obstetrical services within the Niagara region for West Niagara residents. Our team of midwives will continue to work collaboratively with our health system partners to achieve this goal.” – Pilar Chapman, Lincoln Community Midwives

West Niagara mayors comment on WLMH

The following letter from Mayor Easton, Mayor Jordan and Mayor Bylsma was published in News Now Niagara (May 23, 2019).

Dear community members and concerned citizens,

As the Mayors for West Niagara, we thought it time we talk to you, our residents about the state of WLMH and the commitment for a long needed and long promised rebuild.

For many of you, you have seen the media alerts and the promise by none other than Premier Ford and Health Minster Christine Elliott for a rebuild – these are important and positive confirmations. Since last fall, and since those promises, there has been some work happening. While much remains to be done before a shovel is in the ground, and also, while much remains that isn’t confirmed or solved completely, important and incremental work has continued. We still however, require continued advocacy by all parties, on all sides to find and sustain a workable solution for our communities.

The following three issues have been at the forefront of our efforts with HHS and WLMH:

1) A firm commitment to find a solution that will not require surgical and obstetrical services to be relocated. This includes endoscopy as well.

2) Urgently recruiting surgical nursing staff at WLMH.

3) Confirmation that HHS is fully committed to the redevelopment plan for WLMH (including all services) that had been previously submitted to the Ministry of Health for approval.

There is one thing since the beginning we have all agreed on, and as the mayors we took this message to the Minster of Health herself, and that is that the safety and well-being of patients, our community and staff at WLMH is our number one priority.

In a recent update from the leadership at HHS we were told with respect to the OR nursing staff, that 3 OR nurses have been recruited for the WLMH surgical program. Training and orientation will begin shortly and nurses will be in their new roles in the of Fall 2019.

With respect to the commitment to maintain services, there is a WLMH Transition Planning Working Group working on this piece. We are reassured that work continues between the administrative and medical staff, as well as ongoing discussions with the Ministry of Health, to determine how best to meet the appropriate standards for safety and quality of care in the surgical and obstetrical units within the hospital. While this does not yet indicate a solution has been reached, we implore all sides to find a workable and much needed solution. The community expects one and as your leaders we are advocating for a solution. This is our priority right now!

We have also recently been told that HHS are assessing solutions to address the renovations required at the hospital. This includes the examination of “low-cost and low-impact solutions” that can be put in place immediately. We were also told that HHS is “carefully considering what additional renovations might be required at the site to fully address critical issues, specifically the safe storage of surgical supplies.”

Their priority and ours is the same, to minimize or avoid service disruptions because of the impact on the communities we ALL serve and what that means to the staff that work and provide life saving care at WLMH. To that point, we remain cautiously optimistic that HHS will look at timing and duration, as well as an appropriate approach for renovations.

We have said on numerous occasions, and this is another point all sides agree on including HHS – our goal is to protect the model of care that is offered at WLMH. We have all heard that HHS is committed to ensure service disruptions are minimal. They have said numerous times that “if service disruptions are required at WLMH to conduct renovations on the facility, the impacted services will return as quickly as possible.” This public declaration and commitment is important.

Our staff and leadership at WLMH care deeply about the lives they touch and the people they serve. That goes without saying. That’s why the work underway to remedy the areas required is so important. That is why having the entire community hold our collective feet to the fire, all of us, all levels of all governments and agencies is important.

Yes some progress has been made – but the urgency remains! We will leave no stone unturned in seeking opportunities to ensure WLMH remains an integral part of our communities and in doing so improve the safety and environment of care for patients and staff.

On behalf of our communities, Lincoln, Grimsby and West Lincoln.

~ Mayor Easton, Mayor Jordan and Mayor Bylsma

WLMH Update

OR nursing staff update

Nurses have been recruited for the WLMH surgical program. Training and orientation will take place throughout the summer and it is expected that the new recruits will be ready to begin their roles in Fall 2019. In the meantime the weekend re-direct of Labour and Delivery continues.

The WLMH Transition Planning Working Group

Intensive work continues with our administration and medical staff to determine how best to meet the appropriate standards for safety and quality of care in the surgical and obstetrical areas of our WLMH site.

The WLMH Transition Planning Working Group, which includes the WLMH site medical leaders, has unanimously agreed that several of the missed standards identified are a high priority for action in the weeks ahead. These issues were validated extensively using third party expertise. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is in full agreement with the working group’s findings that we must address the issues identified.

Several low-cost, low-impact solutions can be put in place immediately. We are carefully considering what additional renovations might be required at the site to fully address critical issues, specifically the safe storage of surgical supplies.

Our priority is to minimize or avoid service disruptions altogether, because of the impact on the communities we serve and the care providers at WLMH. We want to protect the model of care that we are proud of here at WLMH. The timing and duration of any renovations is still being looked at by our teams. We expect to have firm answers soon. If service disruptions are required, the impacted services will return as quickly as possible.

Ongoing infrastructure renewal

Infrastructure renewal work announced by the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care last November is ongoing at WLMH. This work is not directly related to the maintenance of patient safety standards identified by our Transition Planning Working Group, but does address important things like elevator upgrades, plumbing and electrical work throughout the facility.