Pending design change at WLMH could be just what the doctor ordered

By Mike Williscraft


On the heels of an 11th hour delay to a lengthy operating room closure and after news Niagara Health System was balking at what was believed to be an agreed-upon service agreement, West Lincoln Memorial Hospital may finally be moving out of intensive care.

Nine months of hand-wringing and frustration may all be for naught if a design proposal comes to fruition. The design would accommodate infrastructure needs Hamilton Health Sciences officials say are needed to improve sterile storage.

According to an internal communique, a rejigging of various items in the OR footprint will make use of the space between the ORs, relocate a sink and blanket warmer and relocate sterile supplies. The major lengthy and costly overhaul of the department may be avoided, it states.

The initial plan would also have left WLMH with only one OR until a new build is done. This “new” plan would allow for two ORs to remain operational.

The proposal has been approved locally and costed but has not been approved by the Ministry of Health.

Going back to October 2018, HHS president Rob MacIsaac announced WLMH would require a 27-month closure in OR with work needed costing about $8.7 million. The study HHS had done did say the work could take 27 months, but noted it could be done by a series of weekend closures only.

This new proposal is said to be much more economical and, crucial to an expedited time frame, the work is considered much more incremental to the point where “change work” orders to existing awarded contracts are expected to be sufficient.

While it would mean higher costs on the current contracts it would save a great deal of time and money by eliminating the need for new tenders.

“This is great news if it gets done, but we need to get back to two ORs asap,” said WLMH Action Committee co-chair Tony Joosse.

“It is too bad it has taken this long. We’ve been hearing for months about HHS not being agreeable to simpler solutions. From what I have seen of this agreed upon plan it is pretty much identical to a proposal laid out during a discussion with a WLMH staff member last November. I am not sure what has changed, but it could be very positive.”

Joosse noted much of the recent focus for the general public has switched to the rebuild. Concern on that front has continued to escalate as well.

“We are approaching the nine-month anniversary of the great announcement Premier Ford made about being committed to a WLMH rebuild – with $500,000 to help the design process – and we still have yet to see HHS’s actual plans. Nothing has been submitted to the Ministry of Health, either,” said Joosse.

“That is why I say this new design brought up last week will be great…if it happens. We deserve better.”

In the meantime, HHS’s executive vice-president, academic and chief medical executive Michael Stacey says “planning is still underway to support the redirection (of services)” to NHS’s St. Catharines General Hospital.

The closure of one OR to become sterile storage was cancelled the day before it was to take effect. It has been bumped back about 30 days now taking place Aug. 2.

It is hoped the MoH could approve the newly agreed upon design by late September.

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