Despite concerns from hospital location advocacy group CAMPP that is casting doubt regarding the future of Erie Shores Healthcare, hospital officials say both the new acute care hospital and their existing hospital can co-exist.
“The Municipality of Leamington and Erie Shores HealthCare (ESHC) want to assure Leamington residents that the construction of the new regional hospital is not a determining factor of the sustainability of ESHC,” hospital officials said in a statement. “ESHC continues to be a growing and thriving community acute care hospital that services an ever-expanding catchment area of residents from all across Essex County and Windsor.”
At its July 23 meeting, Leamington’s town council voted unanimously in support of a resolution backing the construction of the new regional acute care hospital at its proposed location on County Road 42.
“We want to let residents know we have confidence in the sustainability of our hospital in Leamington,” says Leamington Mayor, Hilda MacDonald. “Fortunately, Leamington residents will continue to benefit from having a hospital in their backyard, as well as easier access to a regional hospital should they require advanced specialty services.”
The hospital leadership and town are making remarks after Citizens for an Accountable Mega Hospital Planning Process (CAMPP) questioned the future of Erie Shores Health Care in Leamington in a newsletter issued last month.
It highlights a study done in 2009 by HayGroup, consultants to the Erie-St. Clair Local Health Integration Network (LHIN). It outlines different factors that would make the Leamington hospital emergency room "less viable in the future."
The newsletter also asks whether a mega hospital would lead to service cuts in Leamington and points out the hospital cut its obstetrics unit in 2015 before reversing its decision. The hospital also finished fiscal 2019 with a $1.3 million deficit.
CAMPP spokesperson Philippa von Ziegenweidt says their newsletter is a proactive initiative to identify options for addressing sustainability challenges in Leamington.
"I'm not saying they're going to close Leamington by any means but in the report they identify the possibility of reducing the ER to an urgent care centre, and in Windsor, they're talking about converting Ouellette campus to an urgent care," notes von Ziegenweidt. "That's a hospital that serves close to 100,000 people and it's in direct vicinity so it's not a stretch to say that they might be doing the same thing in Leamington."
Erie Shores CEO Janice Dawson says the Leamington hospital has invested $1 million in additional front line resources and the percentage of patients coming to the emergency department by ambulance has increased by 45 per cent.
“Erie Shores HealthCare is growing to meet the healthcare needs in our communities,” says Dawson. “Our staff and physicians are doing an amazing job to not allow this significant increase in their workload impact the quality of care. We are here to stay, grow and invest in our staff, programs and resources.”
“We support the new mega hospital and Erie Shores HealthCare will continue to be an integral pillar of healthcare across the region. We continue to be a major player in healthcare for all of Essex County – providing Compassionate Care Close to Home,” Dawson adds.