Kincardine's hospital has future, say officials

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Despite a delay caused by the Kincardine Physicians Group, Friday’s Health Care Stakeholders meeting can be considered a success.

The mayors of Kincardine and Huron-Kinloss met with Huron-Bruce MPP Carol Mitchell, representatives of the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), two Kincardine doctors, the hospital foundation and Paul Davies and John Haggerty of the South Bruce Grey Health Centre (HSBC) in front of a large crowd at the municipal administration centre.

“This meeting was educational I think,” said Kincardine mayor Larry Kraemer. “There were parts of this I wish we could’ve avoided, but there was a lot of information presented in a short time.”

Each of the groups was given ten minutes to outline its position on health care in Kincardine. Following the presentations, the future looked mostly bright for the Kincardine hospital site.

“You have to be impressed there is a long-term plan for the hospital,” said Kraemer.

Mitchell outlined the Provincial Government’s plan to stress integration in health care delivery. The government created LHINs to work with local health care providers and add efficiency to the system.

Mitchell also committed to helping the Kincardine hospital receive an expansion or redevelopment. Two years ago, the site was given a $750,000 grant to create a business plan for expansion. The plan is nearly complete and Mitchell said once it’s completed, the hospital goes into a list with other municipalities looking for improvements.

“You have to begin somewhere,” Mitchell said.

Both Huron-Kinloss and Kincardine council have made major financial commitments to helping provide healthcare at the Kincardine hospital. Mitchell commended both municipalities for the work they have done.

“It’s up to each municipality to (determine) how much they want to be involved,” Mitchell said. “We need each other to make the system work. If there isn’t a sense of community, then there won’t be a willingness to move forward.”

Huron-Kinloss mayor Mitch Twolan said Huron-Kinloss puts one per cent of its annual budget into health care. Health is not part of the municipal politicians mandate, but, his council has committed to supporting both hospitals used by the residents because it’s what the community wants.

“Tell us how you want to be involved,” he said. “It is going to come out of your pockets. If we’re going to be more active, you have to be made aware (taxpayers will be paying for it).”

Twolan also said the open dialogue and information sharing going on during the meeting should be continued to ensure communication improves down the road.

Kincardine physicians used the information meeting to call for SBGHC CEO Davies’ resignation. The move will lead to increased tension between hospital administrators and health care providers.

Mitchell said she is bringing a detailed report of this meeting back to the Minister of Health, but she is concerned with the breakdown of communication she saw during the meeting.

“I’m very concerned,” she said. “I’m anxious to move forward on a redevelopment plan, but it will be difficult in this type of atmosphere. I have heard today that (we) have a lot of work to do. The answer is better communication.”

Mitchell’s report will be forwarded to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, where it will be reviewed in advance of the hospital submitting its redevelopment plan.

Twolan and Kraemer both said they will bring the information presented back to their respective councils for more discussion. Kincardine’s physicians did not apologize for the harsh words directed at Davies, but said the open communication of the meeting was a step in the right direction.

“It was important to have this meeting,” said Dr. Lisa Roth. “I want further discussion to solve the problems we have here and get physiotherapy back in our hospital. I’m not sure what the solutions are but we’re up to the challenge.”