By Mike Williscraft
The provincial government announced another $2 million of support for West Lincoln Memorial Hospital Tuesday.
The funds are to cover costs Hamilton Health Sciences officials say are needed to restore the now-closed second operating room. That second room, in the short term, is to be used for the storage of sterile equipment and allows for one operating room to continually be used.
The move comes 12 days after HHS informed staff at WLMH that obstetrics services would be lost to the facility for about one year. This move was necessitated in the name of patient safety, they claim.
Initially, a 1A model had been proposed when one OR was closed for what was supposed to be a six-week stint but that soon expanded to eight weeks and the day before all was to reopen the long-term closure was rolled out.
Tuesday, Robin Martin, parliamentary assistant to Minister of Health Christine Elliott, said the funds are to help get services back up and running at WLMH as quickly as possible.
The investment is in addition to the $8.4 million in provincial funding provided to the hospital in November 2018 and the government’s ongoing commitment to support the redevelopment of the facility.
“This is a very important day for patients and families in the West Niagara region,” said Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff.
“Once renovations are completed, West Lincoln Memorial Hospital will have greater capacity to provide patients and families with access to care in a space that can better meet the needs of a growing community, until the new hospital is built.”
The upgrades are anticipated to be completed by late 2020 and include renovations to the operating room suite and endoscopy cleaning facilities, upgrades to the elevator, emergency generator, fire alarm system, nurse call systems, cooling and heating, plumbing and electrical systems and the replacement of flooring tiles and cabinets across the hospital.
While nobody disputes the need for upgrades at the aging facility, all but a handful of local officials both in and out of WLMH dispute the manner in which HHS management has conducted the process over the last year.
“There have been some very simple things we have seen both done and not done over the last year such as very little attention to hiring over a long period of time and, more recently, not calling the administration at Joseph Brant Hospital about being a possible transfer location for patients in emergency situations which would have allowed our obstetrics to continue operating,” said Tony Joosse, co-chair of the WLMH Citizens’ Action Committee.
“We’re being told Fall 2020 to get services back up and running. That is simply not good enough. We have consulted some industry leaders and they say the work needed is an 8-10 week job. We recognize some of the design work is still being done, so work estimates are a moving target, but an expedited construction plan could easily reduce the obstetrics closure to about three months.”
The work is to include: renovations to the operating room suite and endoscopy cleaning facilities, upgrades to the elevator, emergency generator, fire alarm system, nurse call systems, cooling and heating, plumbing and electrical systems and the replacement of flooring tiles and cabinets across the hospital.