Oshawa still fighting for tranparency on hospital decision; Nicholson wants “guarantee” new facility won’t raid existing services

By

Published February 2, 2022 at 11:02 am

Oshawa Councillor Brian Nicholson’s motion at Monday’s special meeting of Council that Lakeridge Health “guarantee” that services currently provided at Oshawa’s hospital remain in place when the new facility is built sparked a lively debate on the councillor’s Facebook page.

There were 177 comments made, with some in support and others not so much. One Whitby resident said Lakeridge Health “doesn’t owe you an explanation” and asked if Nicholson would be making the same demands if Oshawa had been successful in hosting the new hospital.

“Yes,” the resident of south Oshawa said.

“Any option that reduces health care options for my community or my ward is definitely not an option I will support. It may be easy for those well off to drive anywhere in Durham but those without vehicles, with limited transport options, or health issues need a full-service hospital nearby. As I represent the residents of the lakefront in Oshawa, the current site is our go to option. The new site wherever it is will not be.”

Lakeridge Health had opened the bidding to host Durham Region’s next hospital and received answers from Pickering, Whitby and Oshawa. All sites (Oshawa had two) were in the north, close to Highway 407, and the selection committee eliminated both Oshawa sites in December as being too close to the city’s existing hospital and then gave the thumbs down to Pickering’s choice in the first week of January.

That left Whitby’s selection – near Lakeridge Road and Highway 401, on lands owned by the provincial transportation ministry – as the de facto winner and that had Nicholson crying foul with five representatives on the Lakeridge Health Board of Trustees living in Whitby, versus just one Oshawa representative.

That prompted a second motion at Monday’s meeting, that Lakeridge Health open the books and show the public how the decision was made.

“Council unanimously agreed to continue the fight for a fair and transparent process on the selection of the new hospital site in Durham. Council is tired of the secrecy and games being played to secure the site for Whitby at the expense of all Durham residents.” Nicholson said.

The motion was made by Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter, who said Lakeridge Health shouldn’t have a problem with the request, as they promised they were focused on a “clear, transparent and well-communicated process” to support the site selection for a proposed new hospital in Durham Region.

Oshawa is making the full details of its submission available for public review, and is asking Lakeridge Health to do the same by releasing all submissions made to the Independent Expert Panel for the public to see, along with the Independent Expert Panel assessments of each submission.

Carter and the rest of Council agreed that the rapid population spikes and the pandemic have put a great strain on health care resources and emphasized the need for a new Acute Care Hospital with a Level II Trauma Centre in Durham.

Nicholson’s worry is the new facility – wherever it is built – might steal some services from Lakeridge Health Oshawa to save money.

“One of the major concerns is the fear that services currently at Lakeridge Health Oshawa will be moved to the new hospital and removed from the Oshawa hospital. This includes Emergency and Trauma services, day surgeries and in-house patient surgeries.”

Lakeridge Health Oshawa currently provides:

  • Emergency and Critical Care
  • Inpatient and Outpatient Surgery
  • Stroke Prevention and Treatment
  • Palliative Care
  • Inpatient Rehabilitation Services
  • Cardiac Care
  • Inpatient and Outpatient Mental Health Services
  • Women and Children’s Health
  • Dialysis and Kidney Care
  • Geriatric Assessment and Intervention Network (GAIN) Clinic
  • Telemedicine Clinic
  • Diagnostic Imaging and Laboratory Services

Nicholson took some heat on his Facebook page for fear-mongering, as there is no public record of services being moved when the new facility is built. But he pointed to Essex County, just outside Windsor, which built a super hospital, and the result was two downtown Windsor facilities had to close.

It also meant, the poster noted, that Windsor residents will not have easy access to the new hospital without a car, which “divides health care between the haves and the have-nots.”

All the more evidence for Lakeridge Health to promise for the record the new hospital will not raid services from Oshawa, or hospitals in Ajax and Bowmanville either, said Nicholson.

“Residents of Oshawa, especially those in southern and central Oshawa, need a guarantee that their health care will remain and that they will not be forced to travel to the Ajax/Pickering/Whitby border in west Durham for healthcare. A few minutes can be the difference between life and death.”

indurham's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising