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

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