Brockton mayor wants commitment from Ontario Health regarding health care

·2 min read

BROCKTON – Mayor Chris Peabody told council he wants “a firm commitment from the regional office (of Ontario Health) to support us” in the matter of health care.

The statement was made during discussion of CAO Sonya Watson’s update on South Bruce Grey Health Centre at the June 7 council meeting.

Council had requested regular updates from SBGHC, stemming from the health centre’s decision in late December 2021 to close the emergency room in Walkerton overnight due to the nurse shortage.

This closure, and service cuts at the Chesley site, led to a third-party review by consultant Carol De Rosie, initiated by Brockton council. The review was forwarded to a number of people including both local MPPs.

Following the service reductions, meetings took place involving Peabody, Arran-Elderslie Mayor Steve Hammell, MPP Lisa Thompson and De Rosie.

SBGHC board chair Bill Heikkila and CEO Michael Barrett were invited to a meeting of council and made a presentation on the health centre’s action plan and strategies for nurse recruitment and retention.

Following that meeting, the hospital’s plans were successful enough to allow the return to normal operations of the Walkerton emergency room (May 9) and Chesley acute care (May 9), with the return to normal operations of the Chesley emergency room on June 15.

Watson reported that the agency nurses are working out well at both Walkerton and Chesley sites. However, there will be challenges over the summer ensuring emergency departments remain open, due to the shortage of physicians to cover shifts.

Watson said in her report that the board is committed to securing a qualified and committed member from the Brockton area.

SBGHC’s annual general meeting is June 29.

Coun. Steve Adams remarked favourably on the progress that’s been made and asked if Watson could find out “about any changes before we read about it in the paper or online … I know council feels this is one of the most important pieces council has worked on in the past four years … no surprises, please.”

Peabody told council that one item of concern is “Ontario Health really hasn’t checked in on what’s going on … an ongoing concern throughout this whole file.”

“We did receive a very unsatisfactory letter from the regional manager … I have requested a formal meeting, a face-to face meeting, with (MPP) Lisa Thompson to talk about all of these issues … this would be at the top of the list,” said Peabody.

The mayor went on to say, “This was a very divisive process that we went through before Christmas … very upsetting. I want a commitment from the regional office to support us.”

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times

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