SOS News Archive p.2

October 31

The letter to the Editor in  the Chatham Daily News wriiten by Wm P. Magee from Chatham NEEDS a strong reaction from all citizens of the Sydenham Hospital catchment area.

A personal attack on Jeff and a direct attack of SOS  and Sydenham Hospital is NOT ACCEPTABLE.

Feel free to write your own reaction  and send it  as a letter to the Editor of the Chatham Daily News or
email your reaction to Magee's letter to  with your permission to print your letter on our SOS  Website.
SOS Website  Coordinator & SOS Vice-Chair.

October 31
Jim Hasson's response to Wm P. Magee's numerous inaccurate statements
I appreciate this opportunity to clarify a number of incorrect statements made by William Magee in his recent letter to the editor (“Editorial criticizing CKHA CEO off the mark”, The Chatham Daily News, October 31).

Mr. Tremblay has most certainly lost the trust and will of the dozens of rural communities that encompass the SDH catchment area.  A public rally at Mr. Tremblay’s office on March 20 that included 180 vehicles and 600 citizens is just one of many examples of the public’s outrage at the ongoing service cuts that have occurred at SDH under Mr. Tremblay’s watch– scarcely a “small group in Wallaceburg and North Kent”.

Mr. Tremblay and senior administrators of the CKHA were included on the protest tour because of the CHKA commissioned Deloitte report that recommended the removal of the remaining 20 medicine beds, downgrading of the ED to an urgent care centre and other service cutbacks.  SDH has a 16.7% partnership in the CKHA and were once again expected to absorb over 50% of the cuts required to deal with a CKHA budget shortfall of nearly $4 million.

To state that SDH has “insufficient staff and back-up resources to properly treat patients” in the medical beds is uninformed.  In fact, the unit was fully staffed - although resources and support services have been slowly taken from Wallaceburg and moved to Chatham over the years under Mr. Tremblay’s tutelage.

While many rural hospitals across Ontario are being forced have periodic closures of their emergency rooms due to physician and nursing shortages, the SDH ED remains open because coveted medical professionals choose to work at the Sydenham campus.

To state that emergency responders do not stop at the SDH ED but go directly to Chatham because staff are unable to provide medical intervention is also inaccurate.  SDH has a full service 24 hours per day ER and it is illegal for EMS to by-pass an ER with a critical patient.  The physicians and nurses at SDH hold the same credentials as their Chatham colleagues.

On many occasions the Chatham campus of the CKHA requests that emergency responders divert non-critical patients to Wallaceburg from Chatham when they are unable to accept more ambulances.

To imply that Mr. Wesley’s community leadership on the SDH effort is politically motivated is offensive to the thousands of SDH supports and community volunteers in general.  While the Liberal Party of Canada has selected candidates in most every federal riding in Canada, Mr. Wesley has not accepted the nomination in Lambton-Kent-Middlesex and has even spoken at Queen’s Park criticizing the current Liberal government on rural health care policy.

Community efforts to Save Our Sydenham have been effective because people have accepted ownership of the hospital that they built and continue to support.  They have been truthful, honest and transparent and are looking forward to working with a future CKHA CEO who uses a similar approach.

While I respect Mr. Magee’s opinions I did feel that his numerous inaccurate statements require a response.

 Jim Hasson


Sir:I read Bruce Corcoran's editorial "Timing's right for CKHA boss's departure" in the Sept. 29 Chatham Daily News about Ken Tremblay, and I am surprised the publisher would allow such a shabby piece of journalism to be published.

He starts with the innuendo that Mr. Tremblay had to leave the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) because he has lost the "trust and will" of the community. This is absolutely false. The only people who questioned his leadership are the small group in Wallaceburg and North Kent who are members of Jeff Wesley's lobby group SOS (Save Our Sydenham). The remainder of the people in Chatham-Kent recognize the fine job he has done as CEO of CKHA.

The truth of the matter was that Mr. Tremblay had nothing to do with the recommendation to close the emergency room at the Sydenham Campus of the CKHA.

This was made in the Hay Report commissioned by the Erie-St. Clair LHIN. A decision to close the ER would have to be made by that LHIN (Local Health Integration Network).

The LHIN decided to defer any action on the ER until a report comes from a Ministry of Health panel studying small hospitals in small communities throughout Ontario.

Mr. Corcoran goes on to attack the decision of the CKHA to remove 20 medicine beds from Sydenham.

The truth of the matter was that Sydenham had insufficient staff and back-up resources to properly treat patients in those beds. Many people don't know that to staff the ER, the CKHA had to hire a recruiting service to bring in ER doctors from out of town (even as far away as Toronto) and pay them a premium remuneration to get them to come.

Most people also do not know that the emergency response (ambulance) teams that serve Wallaceburg and North Kent, after picking up a patient in distress who has called 911, do not even bother to stop at the ER, but go directly to the emergency department at CKHA as they know the staff available at the ER are unable to provide the medical intervention which the patient requires.

Mr. Corcoran comments on the negative effects on the staff and the community, of the decision of Mr. Tremblay to remove the outstanding deficit at CKHA.

But he fails to mention that the deficit removal was mandated by the Ministry of Health.

Time will tell whether Mr. Wesley formed the SOS as a legitimate lobby group to retain the ER or whether he saw it as an opportunity to advance his own political ambitions.

Mr. Corcoran has made these allegations against one of the most able and effective hospital administrators Chatham-Kent has ever been privileged to have.

-- William P. Magee Chatham

October 7

eHealth scandal claims health minister
Premier scrambles to shuffle cabinet as David Caplan quits on eve of damning report on eHealth scandal



Problems at eHealth Ontario emerged last spring after the Progressive Conservatives obtained records through freedom-of-information requests.

It was eventually revealed the agency had awarded about $16 million in untendered contracts to consulting firms such as Courtyard Group and Anzen Consulting. That doesn't include a $30 million contract awarded to IBM without tender.

EHealth was criticized for hiring consultants who earned up to $3,000 per day while expensing minor items such as $1.65 for tea and $3.99 for cookies. The $114,000 bonus paid to agency CEO Sarah Kramer after five months' work came under fire.

EHealth was established last year to bring Ontario health records online after its predecessor, Smart Systems for Health Agency, was dissolved.


• Health Minister David Caplan, who resigned Tuesday, bore the brunt of opposition wrath over the scandal.

• EHealth CEO Sarah Kramer, a former vice-president and chief information officer at Cancer Care Ontario, left eHealth in June with a $317,000 severance package after just 10 months on the job.

• EHealth chair Dr. Alan Hudson was McGuinty's go-to guru on reducing wait times for key medical procedures, and the premier's handpicked trouble-shooter at eHealth. He resigned as volunteer chair of the agency soon after Kramer's departure.

• Donna Strating, senior vice-president of program development and delivery, defended the cookies and muffins she expensed, in an interview with the Star. She was one of several high-priced consultants who came under fire for perceived nickel-and-diming of taxpayers.


Auditor General Jim McCarter's probe of eHealth was launched in the wake of the spending revelations. Stung by the scandal, the government has already outlawed untendered contracts for consultants to government ministries and agencies and banned consultants from billing taxpayers for hospitality, incidentals and food expenses.


Auditor General Jim McCarter's report is expected to conclude:

• The cost of Ontario's push for electronic health records has topped $1 billion under successive Progressive Conservative and Liberal governments, with little concern about value for taxpayer money.

It will criticize:

• A $30 million untendered contract to IBM, approved by cabinet ministers.

• Unnamed senior health bureaucrats for thwarting the auditor's efforts to get investigators into eHealth in the summer of 2008.

• Unnamed consulting companies for driving up each other's fees, artificially creating a higher going rate for their services.

• Too much power in too few hands in awarding contracts.

The eHealth Ontario spending scandal has claimed one of the most powerful people at Queen's Park – Health Minister David Caplan, whose resignation forces Premier Dalton McGuinty to revamp his cabinet.

But McGuinty has one hand tied behind his back as he struggles to reshape his embattled Liberal government because Deputy Premier George Smitherman, who is planning to run for Toronto mayor next year, does not want to quit his energy and infrastructure post just yet.

"Things are chaotic," an insider said as worried Liberal MPPs held a late-night conference call to demand answers about the confusion at the highest levels of the provincial government.

Caplan's departure from cabinet, which takes effect Wednesday, comes as the auditor general releases a scathing 50-page report concluding successive Progressive Conservative and Liberal administrations squandered more than $1 billion on electronic health records for patients with little to show for it.

The health minister's move comes after McGuinty spent months rejecting opposition calls for Caplan's resignation. Critics cited Caplan's handling of eHealth, as well as his performance previously as minister responsible for the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., where problems included lottery kiosk clerks and other insiders winning a stunning $198 million in prizes.

"The auditor is going to say eHealth has fixed a lot of things and that's good, but the blame for the disaster really lies with the ministry," said a source privy to the report.

Other heads should roll, charged a former eHealth official. "To have spent $1 billion and achieved very little – there is a severe problem with the bureaucratic leadership."

Sources said Tuesday night the top contender for Caplan's job was Attorney General Chris Bentley.

Such a move would set dominoes tumbling and could see new assignments for Children and Youth Services Minister Deb Matthews, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Brad Duguid and Environment Minister John Gerretsen, among others.

Caplan, who was not available for comment, is scion of one of the most prominent Liberal families in Ontario. His mother, Elinor Caplan, was health minister under premier David Peterson. She left cabinet under a cloud in 1986 but returned the following year and later served as a federal minister.

MPP for Don Valley East since 1997, the affable Caplan, a married father of two young sons, has many friends and admirers in the party. His departure had them in shock.

"None of this happened on his tenure – it's all under George," said a senior Liberal, referring to Smitherman, health minister from 2003 until 2008. "But with the report coming out, David takes the fall and is a good soldier."

Another long-time friend fought back tears as she described Caplan as "competent, capable and compassionate."

A high-ranking official insisted Smitherman's mayoral ambitions "aren't part of the equation" as McGuinty replaces Caplan, but conceded another shuffle looms to address that situation.

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak, who called Caplan's ousting "long overdue," said Smitherman deserves to be punished for the eHealth scandal since he was in charge longer. "Smitherman should be gone. Quite frankly, he has one foot already in the mayor's campaign office."

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said Caplan should have resigned last June when the eHealth scandal erupted with details of $16 million in untendered contracts and consultants earning $3,000 a day while expensing snacks and meals.

"It's no surprise ... the minister decided to fall on his sword," said Horwath. "I don't believe this is the end of the situation, though. I believe there's a lot more work this government needs to do to restore the confidence of the public."

McGuinty has banned untendered contracts for high-priced consultants in the wake of the eHealth debacle.

Also under the microscope in Wednesday's report are the actions of the senior bureaucrat at health, deputy minister Ron Sapsford, who the Star reported Tuesday collects almost $500,000 a year in salary and benefits funnelled through a Hamilton hospital.

Sapsford is in charge of day-to-day operations in the health ministry, and oversaw contracts for eHealth.

The Liberals conceded they need to improve disclosure of how senior bureaucrats are paid.

Lucrative salaries for Sapsford and other senior bureaucrats are being channelled through hospitals such as University Health Network and Hamilton Health Sciences to skirt government pay guidelines, a practice Horwath called being "paid through the back door."

"It's a good question whether that's the best way to do it," acknowledged Smitherman.

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Bureaucrats skirt rules to hide huge salaries
Ontario dodges policy and buries big salaries in hospital budgets
Published On Tue Oct 06 2009

Rob Ferguson Queen's Park Bureau

Deputy health minister Ron Sapsford, top left, earns a salary of $443,611.55. Hugh MacLeod, associate deputy minister to the premier and head of climate change secretariat, was paid $320,695.60 in 2008. Gail Paech, associate deputy minister of economic development and trade, was paid $291,997.20.

Hefty salaries for some of Ontario's highest paid civil servants – including the deputy health minister, who earned nearly $500,000 last year in salary and taxable benefits – are being channelled through hospitals to skirt government pay guidelines, the Star has learned.

As Premier Dalton McGuinty's administration clamps down on untendered contracts and consultants' meal expenses in the wake of the eHealth Ontario spending scandal, salaries for top bureaucrats are being buried in hospital budgets.

The premier's hand-picked climate change adviser, Hugh MacLeod, was paid $320,695.60 last year by University Health Network, according to the government's public sector salary disclosure documents.

Deputy health minister Ron Sapsford earns a salary of $433,611.55 plus $64,781.35 in taxable benefits through the Hamilton Health Sciences Centre.

Gail Paech, an associate deputy minister of economic development and trade and a former senior health bureaucrat, was paid $291,997.20 by University Health Network last year.

The salaries are well above the maximum $220,150 recommended for deputy ministers and the range of $146,700 to $188,950 for associate and assistant deputies.

By comparison, Premier Dalton McGuinty earned $207,427 and Health Minister David Caplan made $164,623 last year.

The practice is used as a means to attract top talent to the bureaucracy, said Kevin Finnerty, a spokesperson for the health ministry.

"We need to pay them comparable salaries. ... This is a longstanding practice back to 1994," he said.

MacLeod is listed in salary documents as a deputy director of special projects at UHN. Asked Monday if he ever worked at the hospital network, which includes Toronto General, MacLeod replied, "No."

He was previously an assistant deputy minister in the health ministry and has reported directly to the premier as associate deputy minister responsible for the climate-change secretariat since March 2008.

MacLeod confirmed in a telephone interview that his paycheque comes from the hospital network.

"It was part of the contract I entered into when I came here from B.C ... in 2003," he said, adding he is unaware of the reason for the arrangement. "I don't know."

At UHN, vice-president of public affairs and communications Gillian Howard confirmed MacLeod and Paech are both being paid through the hospital. "We're asked to put them on our payroll, so we do," she said. "The answer to why, you're going to have to talk to the (health) ministry."

UHN and other hospitals are fully compensated for the salaries paid through them to non-staffers like MacLeod, health ministry spokesman Finnerty said.

"The individual is on secondment from whatever organization (pays the salary). The organization pays that individual salary and the ministry reimburses that salary at the end of the year," he said.

"The UHN has agreed to be a sponsoring organization for this arrangement and did so at the request of the ministry."

He said the reason for shifting the money around is simple.

"At Ontario public service salary scales we could not attract these people to work in the Ontario government," he said. The practice is transparent, Finnerty said, because all Ontario civil service and Crown agency employees who make more than $100,000 have their salaries disclosed online each year.

But anyone looking for Sapsford's salary, for example, would have to look for his name under the hospital section of the disclosure documents, because he is not listed under the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

Salary ranges for deputy ministers and assistant and associate deputy ministers in the Ontario Public Service are established by the Ministry of Government Services as guidelines rather than hard-and-fast rules.

Executives at government boards, agencies and commissions, such as eHealth, where former CEO Sarah Kramer was hired at an annual salary of $380,000, and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., where former CEO Kelly McDougald earned $411,437 in salary and benefits last year, are not subject to the guidelines.

Deputy health minister Sapsford, who was paid nearly $500,000 in salary and benefits by the Hamilton Health Sciences Centre last year, is a former chief operating officer of the group of six Hamilton hospitals and a cancer treatment centre.

But that posting was "five years ago, maybe," said Hamilton Health Sciences Centre spokesperson Jeff Vallentin.

He declined to answer any questions about the deal and referred queries to health ministry officials in Toronto, where Sapsford, who declined comment, is the boss.

Finnerty insisted it is not a conflict of interest for Sapsford to be in charge of a health ministry that makes decisions affecting the hospital that pays his wage.

"Every civil servant, whether on secondment or not, has an oath of allegiance to the Crown and is bound by that," he said.

One former government official, who asked for anonymity, said pay arrangements like Sapsford's and others are put through hospitals because they have "enhanced pensions" for senior executives.

Sapsford's pay packet is higher than that of his boss, cabinet secretary Shelly Jamieson, who earned $327,953 in salary and $10,079 in taxable benefits.

She is the province's most powerful public servant in charge of 65,000 employees.


Sept. 29

Timing right for CKHA boss's departure

point of view


Chances are few people in Wallaceburg will shed a tear when the rotating door at Chatham campus of the health alliance taps Ken Tremblay on the butt in January.

Tremblay, CEO, president and generalissimo of the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, leaves at the end of January 2010 to take a similar position with the Peterborough Regional Health Centre.

Whether or not you like Tremblay's work here, the reality is he had to go. He'd lost the trust of the community. He was an administrative dead man walking as a result.

The noose slipped around his neck as soon as the Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) released its deeply flawed Hay Report which recommended the closure of three rural hospitals in the LHIN's region; hospitals serving Petrolia, Leamington and Wallaceburg. Tremblay and the alliance's silence on the issue spoke volumes.

The noose tightened over a PR fiasco this summer when a hired consulting firm looked to dig up dirt on Save Our Sydenham (SOS) leader Jeff Wesley.

A Veritas Communications staffer contacted the staff of MP Bev Shipley, who faced off against Wesley in past elections, seeking "any research that may be revealing or insightful for our purposes" on Wesley.

Someone sent the consultant staffer on a dirt quest. Whether or not Tremblay had any involvement is moot. It happened on his watch.

As the Hay report came out, the alliance announced it was removing 20 medicine beds from the Sydenham campus in Wallaceburg -sending 10 to Chatham and spiking the others.

Emergency rooms aren't much good without medicine beds to back them up.

The resulting groundswell of animosity from these announcements hammered away at the alliance and the LHIN. Wesley took over as chair of SOS, and channeled the animosity to very effectively protest the proposed changes to Sydenham campus.

Wesley became a huge thorn in both the LHIN's and the alliance's sides. But he was the focused tip of the will of the people.

And that's what Tremblay lost touch with, if he ever had it: the will of the people.

As president and CEO of the CKHA, Tremblay is very effective at trimming hospital budgets to the point of going from red to black. Admittedly, this is no easy task.

This efficiency earned Tremblay respect and recognition elsewhere in Ontario. At the start of this year, he was tasked to conduct a third-party review of proposed financial solutions for Quinte Health Care, part of the South East LHIN.

And then Peterborough came knocking.

Unfortunately, he and the CKHA have made decisions with too little thought how cost cutting could impact the communities. Cutting for the sake of shaving dollars out of a budget is viewing matters in pure dollars and cents.

Be it in the public or private sector, such pencil-pushing work and disregard for the impact on savings only undermines the public's trust in said company's ability to care for its users and deliver its products.

Article ID# 1773067

Sept. 15, 2009
- Welland


Region calls for Caplan to place moratorium on NHS hospital changes;

Regional council is calling on Health Minister David Caplan to halt restructuring at Douglas Memorial Hospital and to turn back the conversion of the Port Colborne emergency room.

On Thursday night, Fort Erie Mayor Doug Martin brought forward a resolution which was presented to his council by the Ontario Health Coalition asking that a moratorium be called to halt restructuring of Niagara Health System's Fort Erie hospital that will lose its emergency room to be converted into an urgent care centre on Sept. 22.

The resolution further asked that changes at Port Colborne hospital be reversed so it, too, can maintain an emergency room until after the ministry's Northern and Rural Health Care Panel has had the opportunity to review health care in the province and its small, rural communities.

Regional Chair Peter Partington said the resolution originally asked for a moratorium to halt all major health-care restructuring, a section which was removed.

"Council wanted to show support for the position in Fort Erie and Port Colborne, the part with respect to across Ontario, council didn't want to stop any work," he said.

Partington said up until this point, the issue hasn't been something regional council has really "engaged in debate" about.

Port Colborne Mayor Vance Badawey said the community did try to get a similar motion passed by the region before the Port Colborne conversion of its e m e rg e n c y room to an urgent care centre, but it didn't garner support of politicians at the table.

"Quite frankly, we recognize that they made a mistake," said Badawey with regards to Niagara Health System's hospital improvement plan.

The problem, he said, is that this is direction from the ministry, that filters down to the Local Health Integration Networks then to the hospital system. Cuts to health-care services is something being seen in a number of small communities, resulting in a two-tiered system in the province, he said.

Badawey said other hospitals are seeing gridlock, overcrowded emergency rooms and longer offload delays for ambulances.

It's not a coincidence, he said.

That's why Port Colborne is moving ahead with more community- based health-care services, a strategy developed in consultation with the medical community and the public, he said -- a strategy that could be a leading example of enhanced health care for small and rural communities that the ministry's panel may find of use.

"We're hoping the minister in his due diligence with the panel will recognize we've already done the work for him," Badawey said. "And that he'll re-look at the direction given to the LHINS ... and start putting together a health system that is relevant for the community and community needs. It's so important for him to stand down, stand back, and quite frankly, listen."

© 2009 Osprey Media Group Inc. All rights reserved.


This URL contains a document that details the pitfalls of rural hospital closures from the
Society of Rural Physicians of Canada. 

You can download it or read it online.

The URL is


Vice Chair SOS

July 28

News Release

New Board of Directors Slate Elected for SDH

WALLACEBURG, ON -- At today’s continuation of the Annual General Meeting of Sydenham District Hospital, the following slate was elected as the Board of Directors for 2009-2010:

Kurtina Hammerlein, Jim Laforet, Leah McArthur, Brian Slack, Paul Weese, and Wendy Weston. One vacancy is being held for representation from Walpole Island First Nations, expected to be filled in September. Randy Smith was appointed to the Board as a community representative.

The new slate was presented when members, at an earlier meeting held June 30th, voted down the initial slate. Following discussions with those who spoke to the earlier election, the Joint Nominating Committee of the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance proposed a revised slate to accommodate a larger proportion of Board representatives from the Wallaceburg community. An estimated 60 members attended the meeting.

The above members are joined by members an ex-officio capacity:
Dr. Gary Tithecott, Chief of Medical Staff;
Dr. Jason Denys, President of Medical Staff;
Dr. Chris Anjema, Vice-President of Medical Staff; and,
Ken Tremblay, President and CEO.

Following the AGM, the new Board met to elect its Officers with the following results:
Chair             Leah McArthur
Vice-Chair    Brian Slack
Treasurer      Wendy Weston
Secretary      Ken Tremblay

The three hospital Boards govern as a Tri-Board -- focusing on strategic planning, Mission Vision and Values, quality and performance monitoring, financial and management oversight, risk identification and oversight, stakeholder communication and accountability, governance and legal compliance.

Board nominations are made through an open advertisement process by a Joint Nominating Committee and confirmed at the Annual General Meetings. For more information about the Boards of Directors, Tri-Board meeting dates, or to view "Board Highlights" published after each monthly meeting, go to the Alliance’s website, and click on "Directors".

Kurtina Hammerlein, Past Chair said, "We are pleased that we were able to elect a slate and continue with the important work of the Board within the Alliance structure. This year, we will be faced with ongoing financial pressures, the Province’s report from a panel on small hospitals, the redevelopment plans for the site and ongoing changes mandated by the Government and LHIN. However, I am confident in our new Board Executive leadership and look forward to working closely with them."

Media Contacts:
SDH Board Past Chair:
Kurtina Hammerlein

President and CEO, CKHA
Ken Tremblay

July 28

Put a hold on all major health care restructuring decisions in rural and northern communities: Ontario's doctors

 TORONTO, July 28 /CNW/ -
    Today, Ontario's doctors called on the provincial government to place a moratorium on major health care restructuring decisions until a recently appointed government panel reports its findings and makes recommendations. This past spring, the government announced the establishment of the Rural and Northern Health Care Panel. The panel has been asked to recommend steps the government can take to improve access to health care in rural and northern Ontario.
    "We are pleased that the government has acknowledged they are concerned about major decisions being made by hospitals and LHINs in their communities, and asked a panel of experts to do a review and make recommendations," said Dr. Suzanne Strasberg, President of the Ontario Medical Association. "It's only reasonable that while they are completing this important work the government order LHINs and hospitals in rural and Northern communities to put a hold on major restructuring of health care services.
    The OMA presented to the Minister's Panel this week and provided a number of recommendations for their consideration. Specifically, the OMA called for a formal consultation process to be put in place that would be followed by LHINs and hospitals to ensure that the public, physicians and other health care providers are properly consulted before any decision is made regarding services or service delivery. The OMA believes that the public, physicians and other health care providers should be key participants in making decisions that are having a significant impact on health care delivery in communities across the province.

    "Physicians and the public need to be properly consulted before major health care decisions are made in their communities." said Dr. Strasberg.

"Physicians can provide valuable input that will help ensure that decisions are being made without compromising quality and timely access to health care services.

    A recent poll by the OMA confirms that patients want physicians involved in regional health care decision-making. For example:

    -  60% of patients trust doctors most to provide input into planning, funding and integrating health care services locally;

    -  92% of patients agree that doctors in their community should be  consulted thoroughly before any changes are made to their health care services; and

    -  70% of patients support a moratorium on major health care  restructuring until the government panel reports and makes recommendations.

    In addition, the OMA also asked that the Rural and Northern health care strategy formally recognize the differing health care needs in isolated and rural communities; and that wherever possible, health care services in communities of similar size should be similar.

    "Patients and communities should be top-of-mind when decisions that impact services and service delivery are being made," said Dr. Strasberg.

"Being on the front lines, physicians know first-hand how important readily accessible health care services can have a long-lasting positive impact on the strength, prosperity and economic well-being of a community.

For further information: OMA Media Relations, (416) 340-2862 or

toll-free at 1-800-268-7215 ext. 2862

Wallaceburg: Unbelievable - CKHA hires a company to get Information on Jeff Wesley -

Wesley being probed by company hired by CKHA

SOS chairman says its like something in spy movie

Save Our Sydenham’s chairman is fuming after what he calls something out of Hollywood. Jeff Wesley wants an investigation into the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance’s hiring of a company that recently sought information about him — through his political opponent. “It’s like being in a spy movie,” the former federal Liberal candidate said yesterday. “When I found out about it, I was just floored

The Chatham Daily News obtained e-mail correspondence between Veritas Communications Canada and Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MP Bev Shipley’s office.

Last week, Karl Baldauf, a senior consultant with the Toronto-based company, had contacted Pat Davis, Shipley’s chief of staff.

“My company is working with an organization in the Chatham area that is coming up against some stiff opposition from the Lib(eral) candidate that ran in your riding,” Baldauf wrote.

“I was hoping to discuss with you any research that may be revealing or insightful for our purposes.”

In the chain of messages, Baldauf declined to name his client for confidentiality reasons.

However, Kim Bossy, CKHA spokesperson, confirmed the hospital contracted Veritas for three months to develop a community engagement plan.  This concerns the facility renewal project for the Wallaceburg and Chatham campuses, she said in an e-mail yesterday afternoon.  “Community engagement during the Hay (emergency department) study left many feeling unsatisfied, anxious or misinformed,” she said. “Our goal is to develop a different, transparent and open plan that hears diverse opinions and voices across Chatham-Kent regarding facility reinvestment.”  Bossy said it's not unusual for hospitals to enlist experts for community engagement, government relations, or stakeholder relations, particularly for controversial issues.

She said Veritas has been contracted for a cost under $50,000.

“Veritas is presently contacting a number of key community leaders, including SOS representatives,” Bossy said. “They are contacting Jeff Wesley directly to correct any misunderstanding regarding their e-mail, and to invite a meeting to gain his input.”

Wesley said he hasn’t heard from the company. He also questioned the CKHA’s explanation.

“Why is (Veritas) contacting a political opponent?” he said. “That is absolute bull.

“I can guarantee you they weren’t contacting Bev Shipley’s office to find out if I’ve ever volunteered with the Boy Scouts.”

Davis, who was Shipley’s campaign manager, was surprised to receive the request from Veritas.  He said he wrote back to Baldauf to find out what it was all about.“I was perhaps a little puzzled,” he said. “Certainly it’s out of the ordinary.”

Davis said he had no intention of agreeing and later forwarded the e-mails to Wesley.“I wasn’t going to provide anything that appeared to be of that nature,” he said. “Jeff and I have a relationship that goes back 40 years to the time we were kids. I figured he should know.”

The Daily News reached Baldauf yesterday. He was unable to speak at the moment and said he’d call back, but didn’t by press time.

Read the full story in Tuesday's Chatham Daily News

Copyright © 2009 Chatham Daily News


July 21 Louise O writes the following message to Contact Us on SOS Website

 I would like to write to you about my last experience in CKSA St. Joseph campus.  I was sent by ambulance for a low blood sugar seizure.  When they hooked me up to the heart monitors they noticed that I had a left branch bundle block.  They sent me by ambulance to Chatham campus, to ICU at my refusal of cource.  With no ICU in Wallaceburg I had no choice.  After being there for 1 day, I was sent to PCU, a private room.  They were going to order a stress test and maybe go to London for an angioplasti.   I was in PCU for one more day, so in Chatham for a total of 2 days. I got a note from administration asking me what coverage I had, or they would send me a bill.  I called them back and let them know that I had regular OHIP.   They cancelled my stress test, and my trip to London or did not order it at all.  They sent me home.  That day I was not right.  Walking to tables, walls, light headedness, I mentioned to my nurse about it.  They sent me home anyway. 
That night, my husband noticed that I was not right.  He called the heath network
They told him to call me an ambulance.  He give my a ride to Wallaceburg, and admitted me right away.  I did not have to wait.    I refuse to go to Chatham campus it will be a cold day in hell before I go again.

Thank You
Louise Ouellette

 You can submit this to the paper

SOS editorial;  What will life be like at Sydenham Hospital  after the second floor closes on July 27th with only 5 beds on the 3rd floor?  What will it be like for Sydenham patients when these 5 beds are full and no rooms available in Chatham?
Not a pleasant thought.

July 15
Copyright © 2009 Chatham Daily News
City folks don't understand rural Ontario
I'm a small-town kid. Always have been, always will be. And it's just the way I like it.
Born in a town of 20,000 in northwestern Quebec, Val D'Or, I did my high school years in North Bay, population 50,000.
Read more

July 9
-- Trish Douma Regional Director for the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC)
Dear Sir: It was with both surprise and disappointment that I read the recent announcement that the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance has clawed its way back to a financial surplus, after only six months ago informing the public of a $6-million deficit.
As a representative of the union that represents over 400 of the Alliance's employees, I have to shake my head when reading that Mr. Tremblay credits factors such as the recommendations of the Deloitte Report, variable staffing patterns and absenteeism management for bringing finances into line.
Read More


Jul;y 6, 2009

Jeff Wesley responded with a letter to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Minister of Health and Long Term Care David Caplan demanding answers.                                                                                          

Premier Dalton McGuinty                                          Hon. David Caplan

Queen’s Park                                                               Queen’s Park

Toronto                                                                       Toronto

(Via Fax)                                                                     (Via Fax)

 Dear Premier and Mr. Minister:

Over the weekend as my wife and I celebrated our 29th  wedding anniversary and hosted an event for our son and soon to be daughter-in-law we were very troubled by what had come to our attention just a few days earlier.

 As the volunteer and unpaid chairperson of the Save Our Sydenham Committee (S.O.S.) I was contacted by the office of our local MP Bev Shipley (a conservative MP and long time political opponent of mine) and provided with the attached email string. It is nice to see that integrity still exists in some political circles.  

 According to an email (copy attached) from Karl Baldauf, a Senior Consultant with Toronto based Veritas Communications, they are working with “an organization in the Chatham area that is coming up against some stiff opposition from the Lib candidate that ran in your riding” (the only organizations that would fit this description are the Chatham Kent Health Alliance and the Erie St.Clair LHIN).

The email continues on and asks this particular political opponent if they have any “research that may be revealing or insightful for our purposes”.

Hard earned taxpayer dollars used to try and discredit a volunteer community activist? This would be an extreme misuse of taxpayer dollars and offensive to the scores of dedicated and selfless volunteers working to save our emergency department and our hospital.

My request is simple. I am requesting the Minster of Health conduct an investigation to determine:

  1. Who knew about and who authorized the contract with Veritas Communications
  2. Was there an expenditure of public monies?

   3.  Who was the client?

     4.  Who else, besides the local MP, was contacted?

     5.  Is this an acceptable type of activity for taxpayer funded organizations?

     6.  If what we suspect is true what discipline was meted to those responsible?


The good of the countless volunteers in our society and the proper use of taxpayer dollars demands an investigation be conducted.

Jeff Wesley


Save Our Sydenham Committee


Cc:       Maria Van Bommel MPP

            Pat Hoy MPP

            Tim Hudak MPP

            Andrea Horwath MPP

            Bob Bailley MPP

            Erie St.Clair LHIN Board Members

            CKHA Tri-Board Chairpersons

            SOS Membership

July 2

Members of SDH Corporation decline appointment of nominated Directors


(WALLACEBURG)  Members of the Sydenham District Hospital (SDH) Corporation declined the slate of Directors presented by the nominating committee at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) annual general meeting on Tuesday.


Although many of the nominees had widespread support, not all were perceived as the most capable candidates to promote the purposes of the corporation and the interests of the community.  The existingrules allowed members to either approve or decline the entire slate of nominated Directors and not individual nominees.


In March, 220 members were recruited on a one day membership drive and several volunteered to be nominated for board positions.


Many of the newly recruited members of SDH corporation feel that the most capable will step forward and let their names stand for nomination, but only if they are given enough time to apply for membership, complete the nomination forms and submit them to the nomination committee for consideration.


SDH corporation member and Save Our Sydenham (SOS) chair Jeff Wesley commented before the vote that many community minded members believe the Directors should live in the SDH catchment area, be a users of SDH services and not only support the CKHA and the other members of the Tri-Board - but also SDH.


“We realize that our actions today will probably mean that existing Directors will remain in place.  However, in due course and in adherence to all of the rules we will be nominating a top notch slate of Directors,” said Wesley.


The SDH members await word from the SDH Board as to when a call for nominations will be re-opened and an acceptable slate of board members can be nominated.


SOS Committee

June 17

                Jeff Wesley, SOS Chair updates supporters of Sydenham Hospital

Dear SDH Supporters:

The SOS Committee felt that an update to the supporters of SDH, given recent events, was in order. The battle to save our ER and in fact SDH is not over. There may be a bit of a reprieve at the moment but it is far from over.

The Province of Ontario announced the creation of a Northern and Rural Health Care panel to look into and report back on rural and northern health care issues (the SOS Committee nominated me to sit on this panel but I am not overly optimistic that the Province will do so). This panel is still in the preliminary stages and quite frankly we are not sure if this is just another way to try and close our ER or if this panel will truly look to find ways to maintain proper health care in our communities. We will certainly keep a very watchful eye on them.

As a result of the creation of this panel the Province and the LHIN stated that no decision on our ER would be made until this panel completes their work and reports back to the Province. This report is anticipated by the end of 2009. This may not be the five year reprieve that is needed but it is a welcome delay none the less.

Another unfortunate reality that we discovered is that the Province of Ontario and the LHIN are not properly funding our local hospitals and until proper funding is in place the required improvements needed at SDH will be delayed. While the CKHA Board members are working with us and this is a welcome change there remain staff members of the CKHA who still do not appreciate the importance of an ER or SDH to our communities. This remains an ongoing challenge.

Rest assured that SOS is still here, we are well funded as a result of the generous support of all SDH supporters and we will be watching developments with SDH on a day to day basis. SOS is ready to spring to action at a moment’s notice and we only ask that all of you answer that call to action when it comes. Personally, I am in this for the long haul and I will not run in any upcoming election as I am totally committed to SDH and our ER. Your support has been absolutely key to our success and together we can win this one.

SOS will provide periodic updates as events unfold. Please watch for future letters to the editor and also check out the SOS website at

A very sincere thank you to all of the donors (money, time and food), protest participants, phone callers and of course our doctors, nurses and staff at SDH.


Jeff Wesley
Chairperson – SOS

June 5
The Battle May Range Once More in Wallaceburg
by Bruce Corcoran, Chatham Daily News
Read more

June 2  
SOS had nominated Jeff Wesley to the Provincial Rural and Northern Health Care Panel. SOS also asked Maria Van Bommel, M.P.P. to support our nomination. This is her response. 
Dear Conrad;
Please assure SOS that all names put forward are being considered by the Ministry and no decisions concerning the compilation of the Panel have yet been determined.  Also, in speaking with the Minister, he advised that the mandate of the panel is still being worked out.  You can also assure your members that I am advocating to ensure there is "rural" representation on the panel.
Maria Van Bommel, M.P.P.   Lambton-Kent-Middlesex

29 May

At their meeting 
on Tuesday, May 26, in Petrolia, the Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network (ESC LHIN) Board of Directors decided to not proceed with receiving recommendations on the Small Community Hospital Emergency Department Study from LHIN staff in June. The decision was reached after the Board determined it would prefer to wait until after the provincial Rural and Northern Health Care Panel completed its work before receiving recommendations from staff.
Zoja Holman, Senior Community Engagement Consultant, Erie St. Clair LHIN

May 15

Fort Erie:  Three Arrested, Including Doctor for Protesting Closure of Hospital Services
The committee had announced the demonstration was intended yo protest downgrading the emergency department to an urgent care centre and closing of the hospital's operating rooms.Even though the NHS and the ministry of health and long term care both haven’t shown any signs of changing their plans for health care in Fort Erie, residents and politicians say the fight must continue. Read more

May 15
Craby Joe's Staff promote SOS identification by wearing Scrubs with SOS Logo.

Sean Moore, Manager of Craby Joe's, 65 McNaughton , Wallaceburg  initiates colourful scrubs for his staff. Mellissa and Angela's scrubs have a large SOS design on the back and  
smaller SOS on the front. Sean has offered to sell the scrubs and all profits will be donated to SOS.
To order, click here

May 8
Sydenham Hospital ER Nurses Information Road Show.
This is an information session with a talk about Sydenham ER, Health Care and ways in which the public  can help. Their slide presentation provides examples of Emergency Care,of Urgent Care and Primary Care. If you missed their presentations in Port Lambton, Sombra and in Wallaceburg, don't worry because  the nurses have one more session planned in May. The next one will be on May 26th at 7:30 at the Dresden Arena.

May 7
A Sincere, Honest & Compassionate Message to All of You.
Letter to Erie St. Clair LHIN Directors  by Jeff Wesley, SOS Chair

Read more

May 5
SOS initiates online petition to David Caplan, Minister of Health and Long Term Care
Your personal comments are appreciated. If you can, provide personal examples as to why SDH ER must remain open.
Click here to sign petition.

May 5
Letter to David Caplan, Minister of Health and Long Term Care
From: Jeff Wesley, SOS Chair
Re: Sydenham District Hospital Emergency Department ("SDH")- Wallaceburg

Read more

May 4   
Sydenham District hospital lifeline of community
My adopted community of Wallaceburg is currently in a life and death struggle to keep its hospital open. It is a struggle that has been undertaken several times before -- and a struggle that shows government out of touch with its constituents.

Read more

May 2
Snail's pace progress through Chatham ER
Recently my daughter-in- law went to the Chatham hospital "emergency" and had to wait 10 hours -- 4 p. m. until 2 a. m. -- for "emergency" care.  She wanted to get a tetanus shot. She had a split thumb which required stitches and a chipped bone. 
Read more

May 2
Put the money where it
's needed
As a registered nurse, I have a great deal of experience with health-care reform and the wisdom that experience brings with it. Andy Cornell's point of view is correct when he states that the sustainability of our small rural hospitals will be determined by adequate funding to hospitals.

Read more

Learn about the Emergency Department from SDH nurses
Some of the nurses who work in the ER at Sydenham District Hospital are planning a series of public meetings where they will speak about the ER, health care, and ways in which the public can help.

Read more

Jeff Wesley's Speech at Queens Park April 29th.
Good afternoon, I am here today to speak directly to our Premier about the future of Sydenham District Hospital in Wallaceburg, a hospital that has served thousands of patients for the past 52 years...
Read more

April 29th
Jeff Wesley reports from the Protest Bus

An estimated 5,000 from all across Ontario took part today. The speeches from Shirley and I were very well received as well as the 100 who attended from SDH in support of SDH.
Read more

April 28th

April 26

Dr. John Lister speaks in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario Re: REASONS TO KEEP  ERs OPEN IN RURAL AREAS

SOS  representatives Conrad Noel and Herb John attended the LHIN and CKHA monthly meetings.

Read more

Click on link to hear Dr. Lister's  message
Click here to see video

April 25

Patient refused medical care in London
A Lambton County woman is outraged that her late husband was refused medical care at a London hospital because he was from out-of-town.
Read more

April 24th
LOCAL Businesses, Union, and Individuals donate $7200.00  towards  bus costs  to Queen's Park and other SOS protest expenses. Thank you ! Thank you!  Merci! Merci!  What a great Community!
SOS BBQ /Fundraiser collects  $ 1661.16
Read more

A special Thank You for the donations in kind for the fundraiser on Friday from:
The Cookhouse at the Oaks Inn, No Frills, M&M Meats,  Shoppers Drug Mart & Bedell's Frozen Foods.

April 26
Dr. John Lister speaks in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario Re: REASONS TO KEEP  ERs OPEN IN RURAL AREAS
Click here to see video
of Dr. Lister's  message

April 25

Patient refused medical care in London
A Lambton County woman is outraged that her late husband was refused medical care at a London hospital because he was from out-of-town.
Read more

April 24
SOS BBQ /Fundraiser was a fantastic success.  $1661.16 was collected at the BBQ. 
Even though SOS was asking for a 2.00 donation, many, many gave $20.00 , $ 10.00.  What a community! 
Special thanks to the Cookhouse (Mark Childs) for his generous donation of hotdogs and other items valued @ $250.00

April 22
SOS Chair Jeff Wesley sends this message:" And we hope that you hear our message"
Dear Premier McGuinty,Minster of Health David Caplan, MPP Maria Van Bommel, MPP Pat Hoy, LHIN CEO
Gary Switzer, All LHIN Board Members and CKHA CEO Ken Tremblay:

Local rural health care does matter and the community served by Sydenham District Hospital is not going away. The Save Our Sydenham Committee (better known as SOS) is holding a BBQ fundraiser this Friday (every item we need has been donated). Scott Ewing, a local business person put out a donation challenge this morning, via email at 11:17 pm and within about 2 hours raised over $ 4,500 to support not only our hospital and the efforts of SOS but also to provide free bus transportation to the health care rally being held on April 29th at the Ontario Legislature.
We look forward to seeing you and we hope that you hear our message.

Jeff Wesley   Chairperson   SOS Committee

April 17
SOS Chairperson Jeff Wesley replies to Queen`s Park column
I certainly take exception to the Minister stating that the LHINs represent local people in local communities making health care decisions. I have been a member of the liberal party for over 25 years and believe me when they "staffed" the LHINs with board members there were very careful to put in people they could count on.
Read more