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Ontario Budget Provinces Fund Wallaceburg Hospital Expansion

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Health care in Wallaceburg is in line for a multi-million investment by the Ontario government.

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Monte McNaughton, MLA for the region and Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, announced that the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance’s Wallaceburg site is part of the $40 billion investment revealed in the April 28 provincial budget to improve 50 hospitals across Ontario.

These expenses include adding 3,000 new hospital beds over the next 10 years, he added.

“Make no mistake about it, we are building a stronger, more resilient health care system that delivers the quality care patients deserve when and where they need it,” McNaughton said.

The government has also committed to increasing hospital budgets by $76 million in southwestern Ontario, including a $5.6 million increase in the operating budget of the Chatham-Kent Hospital Group. .

“Of course, we’re taking the budget to voters on June 2, and if we’re successful … we want to move forward as soon as possible and start working on the second term to get there,” McNaughton said.

Expansion plans for Wallaceburg Hospital were discussed in the fall of 2020 when the province announced a $7.3 million grant to build a new power plant at the site.

Lori Marshall, president and CEO of the Health Alliance, said the initial expansion bid to the Department of Health was for $25 million. She said the most recent announcement allows the organization to move into the second stage of the capital planning process and hire architects and design consultants.

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“Once there are a few more details, and everything we know about what has happened to the construction costs over the last two years, we need to recalculate them and submit them, and then we will look forward to a approval after that,” Marshal said.

The plan is to relocate the current emergency department and medical beds “so that it’s really a state-of-the-art facility,” she said.

The new section of the hospital will include new diagnostic imaging, as well as laboratory and rehabilitation areas, Marshall said. The new construction will also allow the health alliance to use its existing space to further expand the types of outpatient services, she added.

“It is not just a renewal of the new facilities that will allow us to transform the way we deliver care, it will also give us the opportunity to expand our services in ambulatory and ambulatory care, where the growth. going to be in the future.

However, Marshall does not foresee much, if any, increase in the five inpatient beds at Wallaceburg Hospital. She added that the hospital group, between its Wallaceburg and Chatham sites, has around 200 beds in total.

“The hope would be that we don’t have to increase the number of beds because health care is constantly delivered differently,” she said.

Even during the pandemic, some surgical procedures have been moved to daytime procedures instead of overnight, Marshall noted.

Marshall said home monitoring is also becoming an important part of the future of healthcare.

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“So I think we’re going to see more efficient use of the beds we have and be able to provide more home and outpatient care,” she said.

Alan Wilderman, chairman of the hospital group’s board, said the focus has been on Wallaceburg Hospital in recent years with reinvestment in the emergency department, additional respiratory therapy coverage, upgrades level of equipment, the addition of specialty clinics, a partnership to provide community-based nursing care clinics and the recent expansion of its rapid access addiction medicine and outpatient psychiatry clinics.

“So a lot of things happened here and they served to set the stage for what is about to happen,” he said.

Wilderman also announced that the board is preparing to create a construction committee “to start thinking about what this site should look like, what it should be.”

The committee will include residents of Wallaceburg and Walpole Island First Nations, Marshall noted.

Mayor Darrin Canniff praised McNaughton’s efforts over the years to support Wallaceburg Hospital.

Regarding current growth in Chatham-Kent – and expected growth in the years to come – the mayor said the investment represents a “critical piece of infrastructure for our community.”

He added that an improved hospital will help attract more people to the community.

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