Timing on hospital project up to province, says LHIN

South West LHIN hears concerns about home care, hospital redevelopment in Kincardine

By Barb McKay


The South West Local Health Integration Network is still in support of a proposal to redevelop the Kincardine hospital, according to the network’s CEO.


Michael Barrett told The Independent that the hospital was a focus of discussion during an engagement session held at the Best Western Plus Governor’s Inn in Kincardine last Tuesday. Following a presentation by South West LHIN senior director Kelly Gillis, participants formed focus groups to talk about the goals the LHIN is focusing on in its Integrated Health Service Plan.


“There were lots of questions about when it (redevelopment) would happen and I stressed to them that the South West LHIN has endorsed the plan,” Barrett said. “It is now in the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s hands to make a decision on timing.”


Mayor Anne Eadie said the Kincardine hospital is in serious need of improvement.


“There are areas of our hospital that haven’t been updated since I was born,” she said. “In a rural area we are at least two hours to a major hospital. We still need a functioning hospital.”


Representatives from the South Bruce Grey Health Centre executive and board of directors, local politicians and health service providers attended the session to learn what the South West LHIN is planning to work on over the next three years and to offer suggestions about what the main priorities should be. Much of the conversation centred on home care, acute care and long-term care.


Eadie said the lack of personal support workers in Kincardine and neighbouring rural communities is a concern. In the winter, it can be difficult for PSWs to reach clients and it can be challenging for people in need of support services to access them.


“In a rural area, you have to look at the whole picture,” Eadie said. “In Kincardine, we might be able to get around town, but for those in Tiverton and Ripley it might be difficult.”


She asked if the LHIN intends to focus more on hospital initiatives or if there will be more support for community-based care. She noted that there are significant waiting lists for beds at Bruce County’s long-term care facilities Brucelea Haven in Walkerton and Gateway Haven in Wiarton.


Gillis said it is a balancing act.


“We need to ensure the sustainability of acute care services while maintaining home care in the community.”


Marj Perkins of Trillium Court said the retirement residence and long-term care home has available beds and there could be an opportunity to provide sub-acute care there. She said it serves as a step down from acute care, currently provided at the Chesley Restorative Care Unit. She said Trillium Court has 24/7 staffing and the expertise to assist individuals who require support following a discharge from hospital.


Gillis said the Home First plan, which has hospital staff, Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) staff, patients and their families work jointly to create discharge plans, has helped patients to receive the right care following a discharge from hospital, but there is still work to do.


Barrett said the way community services are provided needs to be examined more closely because it can vary depending on the organization.


“There needs to be a standardization of home care so people know what they are getting and if they will have to pay for it or if it is subsidized.”


He stressed that there needs to be better collaboration between health care providers and social services so that organizations are not working in silos. He said one suggestion that came out of the engagement session was to create some type of joint governance structure that would combine hospital governance with that of other organizations in the community who support patients.


“It’s good advice,” he said.


That is consistent with feedback received from rural communities.


“People have good experiences with their own (health care) providers,” said Gillis. “Where we fall down is working together as a system.”


The South West LHIN is collecting feedback from several engagement sessions throughout the region, which will be incorporated into the final Integrated Health Service Plan. The plan will be written over the summer and presented to the South West LHIN board of directors for approval in the fall, after which it will be made public.