Oshawa still not giving up on hosting the new regional hospital

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Published March 28, 2022 at 3:28 pm

The City of Oshawa doesn’t take a telling well, at least when it comes to hosting Durham Region’s next hospital.

Despite being told three months ago they were out of the running and receiving a letter from Lakeridge Health’s Board of Trustees last week confirming just that, the City is still going full steam ahead in advocating for the new hospital to be built in north Oshawa.

Oshawa Council approved a three-part motion Monday to 1) continue to champion the city as the best site for the future hospital, 2) officially oppose “any reduction in services” at Oshawa’s current health care facility when the new hospital is built, and 3) review the membership of the Lakeridge Health Board of Trustees – the final decision-makers on this issue – to make it more “fair and equitable.”

There are five Whitby residents on the board, versus just one Oshawa representative. With competing bids from both Oshawa and Pickering already eliminated, the unofficial winner of the campaign to host the next regional hospital is Whitby, on a 160-acre site near Lakeridge Road and Highway 407.

Oshawa was removed from the running because its current hospital is less than 10 kilometres from the site proposed for the new facility near Simcoe Street and Highway 407, criteria called “arbitrary” by Councillor Brian Nicholson but considered “one of the most important considerations” in the site selection process in the letter to Council, which was signed by Lakeridge Health Board of Trustees Chair Sharon Cochran.

Nicholson said he was “appalled” with Cochran’s letter and said the tone of the letter shows “a real lack of understanding of their role in the community,” adding that the City has “lost confidence” in Lakeridge Health’s ability to make an unbiased decision on the matter.

Fellow Councillor John Gray also expressed his “disappointment” in the letter from the hospital board. Saying it “didn’t pass the smell test” or “encourage faith in the process.”

“This is a huge investment,” he said. “We’re just asking for a fair process.”

Councillor Rosemary McConkey, however, said Cochran’s letter, in her opinion, was “fair” and added that the City’s inability to accept that they lost is leaving a “bad taste” with residents in other Durham communities.

She supported the motions, nonetheless, with all three motions passing unanimously.

Cochran said in her letter there “no plans” to changes the services already in place in Oshawa but they “routinely re-evaluate how to provide the best possible care” every seven to ten years.

Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter is not convinced, saying the City needs “absolute” assurances that if the new hospital is built somewhere other than Oshawa “there would be no reductions in services.”

As far as the representation on the board, Cochran offered no sympathy and invited the councillors to review the board’s agendas and minutes if the have concerns with fairness.

“In accordance with best practices in governance, the Board is composed of those with the experience and expertise required to ensure that our hospital maintains high-quality care for all Durham individuals and families … (and) will continue to adhere to the principles of openness and transparency in how it conducts its business.”

The next step for all involved in the process is to look ahead, not behind, Cochran added.

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