By Joanne McDonald
West Lincoln Memorial Hospital volunteer Rita Waldock has been manning the front desk every Friday for the past 15 years.
Lately, and it’s unbelievable she says, “everybody who comes through the front door says, ‘we can’t lose this hospital’.”
A WLM Auxiliary member, Waldock has watched the community triple in size and said West Niagara needs the hospital now more than ever.
Barbara Boudreau, three weeks ago was rushed by ambulance to West Lincoln for a suspected stroke. “Having this hospital here is a matter of life and death for seniors like me.”
The Beamsville resident said it was critical to know she had close contact with a hospital that was capable of caring for her emergency.
“We’ve raised all that money, $14 million. We’ve waited so long. This should be our decision.”
As a WLM Auxiliary member, Boudreau delivers the mail, and often on her rounds, “I see patients I know would never have made it to Hamilton or St. Catharines.”
She also sees “women from all over the Region who come here to have their babies because of the reputation of the obstetricians and obstetrics nursing staff.”
Making his visiting rounds at the hospital, Rev. Fred VanderBerg, pastor at Mountainview Community Church in Grimsby sees the healing power of patients knowing “they’re not alone,” with the close by community of family, friends and neighbours providing a huge amount of support and care for patients while they’re in the hospital.
To close West Lincoln, “even if it’s true there are a few dollars saved, it’s at the cost of community and lives,” Rev. VanderBerg said.
And it would only increase costs for emergency medical services transporting residents and road safety factors for people travelling distances to seek help.
Leaving the hospital following a third surgery, David Cott said his ability to have the surgeries at West Lincoln has absolutely and 100 per cent, impacted his ability to regain health and have quality of life.
“Having this hospital here in Grimsby has been a matter of life and death for my husband and his recovery,” said his wife, Jo-Anne.
“We could not live without this hospital here. And in fact if it’s not here, we’ll move.”
Nicole Muis has high praise for the care and transition from hospital to palliative care that was provided for her “Opa” grandfather, moving from C ward at West Lincoln to the nearby McNally House Hospice. “Family was here and he knew he was home,” Muis said.
“I don’t know what we would do without this hospital.”
Her three children were born there, including a daughter who was a high risk delivery, but, Muis said due to the skill of the obstetricians was able to be born at West Lincoln.
“My mom was diagnosed with a heart attack at West Lincoln Memorial Hospital and spent 11 days in ICU waiting for a quadruple bypass. We are so thankful that West Lincoln was able to take such good care of her during that time,” Muis said.
Her husband Dwayne’s life was also saved as a child at WLMH following a severe attack of asthma.
“It just shows how one person can have so many connections to this amazing hospital,” Muis said.
Recovering from a double lung transplant, Sonya Sommer is frequently at the Grimsby hospital.
She said finding sources outside of Toronto General is important for blood testing and pulmonary function testing (PFT) “which is vital to make sure there is no rejection of the new lungs,” and must be done every two weeks.
“I can have it done here and it is an enormous help for my quality of life,” Sommer said.
“It saves me a two-hour trip each way to Toronto with a support person.”