COVID-19 sets back WLMH’s rebuild timeline

By Mike Williscraft

While a glimmer of light may have appeared at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, West Lincoln Memorial Hospital’s rebuild light is a little less bright, says Ontario Minister of Health Christine Elliott.

In an exclusive interview with NewsNow Tuesday afternoon Elliott said there is reason to be optimistic on the COVID-19 front but called for further patience.

“It’s very encouraging, but that is thanks to the 14.5 million people in Ontario, including the Niagara Region, who have followed the suggestion of our chief medical officer of health,” said Elliott.

“We are not through this yet. While it appears we are peaking at the moment, there is still the opportunity for further outbreaks.”

Before any relaxation of protective measures are loosened, Elliott said a trend of declining case numbers must be evident.

“The U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention are also suggesting that if case numbers get down to what they consider reasonable limits you still need to go two weeks past that due to the incubation period,” said Elliott.

With COVID-19 impacting all facets of life, WLMH has not been spared either.

“I understand that there has been a bit of a delay with some of the submissions, partially due to COVID-19. That is happening with many projects in Ontario. However, we hope that once we have defeated COVID-19 that we can put the plans back into place and the submissions can move forward,” said Elliott, adding the setback “is a couple of months.”

“We know that this is really important for many of your readers. The Premier has been very vocal on this particular issue because he knows the importance to the residence, so we will move forward as quickly as we can.”

Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff noted the current healthcare crisis highlights the need to get the rebuild done.

“When it comes to our West Lincoln Memorial Hospital, a pandemic such as this underlines the importance of keeping a hospital in our community to provide excellent care to all the residents,” said Oosterhoff. “I will be e-meeting with Hamilton Health Sciences staff and local mayors next week (April 30th) to discuss the impacts of the virus and next steps.”

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