News from the Niagara Health Coalition
Posted May 30th, 2016 on Niagara At Large
Welland, Ontario – The Niagara Health Coalition participated in the cross-province, volunteer-led referendum (spearheaded the Ontario Health Coalition, its its Toronto-based umbrella group) to save local hospital services and stop the cuts to community hospitals.
Over the past three weeks, more than 60 volunteers organized advance polls and May 28th locations in their communities, their workplaces and organizations in Fort Erie, Niagara-on-the Lake, Niagara Falls, Thorold, St. Catharines, Pelham, Port Colborne, Wainfleet and Welland.
A total of 4,646 Niagarans participated in the referendum. 4,614 voted in favour of the government stopping the cuts to local hospitals and health services, 27 voted against and there were 5 spoiled ballots.
The impact of nine straight years of real dollar cuts to hospital budgets is being felt by all residents in Niagara as the Hamilton , Niagara and St. Joseph’s Health systems struggle to reduce their deficits.
The Niagara Health System, facing a small deficit in 2015, managed to get rid of that deficit by closing the beds in Niagara on the Lake .
In spite of our hospitals being over 100% capacity, 10 of the NOTL beds were not re-allocated and these were much neede complex-care beds. Wait times in the emergency rooms of the St. Catharines and Welland hospitals are way above the provincial average.
People are still waiting in the ER for days before being admitted to the hospital. Wait times for hip /knee replacement and cataract surgery have increased not decreased.
Although there has been no formal notification, the Niagara Health System President Kevin Smith has informed the staff of the Port Colborne hospital that ithe NHS plans to close the hospital and its urgent care centre. The savings resulting form this closure will go a long way to help the NHS to have a balanced budget in 2016.
Both closures go against Smith’s plan adopted by the Ministry to close five hospitals once the new hospital in Niagara Falls is built.
The Shaver is also dealing with a substantial deficit and there has been some changes in services and a reduction in staffing hours.
“It is very evident that the continuous lack of adequate funding to our health systems is having a great impact on our community hospitals and health services” stated Sue Hotte of the Niagara Health Coalition.
“This is especially true in South Niagara where two community hospitals servicing over 94,000 people are being threatened with closure,” added Hotte. “St. Catharines and Niagara Falls hospitals will be hard pressed to meet the increase pressure on the services that they offer. In the end all residents in Niagara are affected”
Learn more about the Ontario Health Coalition and its province-wide advocacy for quality public health care – http://www.ontariohealthcoalition.ca/ .
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