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