Letter from Jeff Wesley to David Caplan, Minister of Health and Long Term Care

Hon. David Caplan

Minister of Health and Long Term Care
Province of Ontario
(By email)

Re: Sydenham District Hospital Emergency Department (“SDH”) – Wallaceburg

Dear Mr. Minster:

It is time to stop the waste of hard earned taxpayer’s dollars and begin to work together for the betterment of all concerned. Please allow me to explain.

On January 23, 2009 the Erie St.Clair LHIN (“LHIN”) released an $80,000 + Hay Group Consultants Study (“Hay Report”) that has, since this release, been marginalized, criticized, refuted and consistently shown to be poorly done, misleading and factually incorrect. Interestingly, two of the three consultants who did the study no longer work there. The only organization that continues to reference this study, in any positive way, is the LHIN.

In a series of poorly run, poorly organized but expensive LHIN public consultation meetings the LHIN continues to quote the Hay Report  and they continue, contrary to all accepted expert advice, to compare SDH (a small rural community hospital) to the larger urban hospital in Chatham. This is wrong. This is misleading. We have repeatedly pointed this out but the LHIN stubbornly refuses to show a fair comparison between SDH and other peer hospitals. Why? What are they afraid of? Could it be because we know that SDH stacks up very well against other peer hospitals?

Last week in a presentation to the LHIN the Chatham Kent Health Alliance (“CKHA”) called for a five year reprieve for SDH so that we could all work together to come up with a plan to make SDH a shining example of what rural health care should be in this province. The CKHA acknowledged, as many others have, that the timing was far too short for a decision of this magnitude. Both the SOS Committee and the community fully support this and will work tirelessly to see that it happens. In conversations with both Maria Van Bommel MPP and Pat Hoy MPP they openly stated full support for such a reprieve.

Also last week you announced the creation of a Northern and Rural Health Care Panel to look into the issues surrounding health care. For this panel to be both effective and credible you must put in place a moratorium on all changes, closures and cuts affecting northern and rural health care. If not what is the point? The SOS Committee, the community and both Maria Van Bommel and Pat Hoy support such a moratorium.

Since the release of the Hay Report our community has shown unprecedented levels of support for both SDH and the efforts of the SOS Committee. Over one thousand at a public meeting, a 25 km long road tour protest, over 11, 400 signatures on a petition, $7,000 raised in mere hours to send buses to Queen’s Park. We have the full support of the community, are well funded and ready to continue on in this fight to save our SDH. Do not underestimate our resolve.

Imagine for a moment if all of this energy, enthusiasm and passion were diverted to working to keep our SDH open and then moving forward to make it a shining example of rural health care in Ontario. With your support and your help we can do it. Do not underestimate our ability to make this happen.

With all of the positive steps forward last week the community was stunned to see the LHIN send out a meeting notice for this Saturday citing the same old study and spending more dollars on a consultation exercise that simply is not needed nor is working. The LHIN needs to be focusing on the request of the CKHA and the creation of a Northern and Rural Panel and the obvious fact that both the approach and tactics of the LHIN need to change. The community wants an answer on the five year reprieve now.

We need a response from the LHIN now so that we can begin working with the CKHA, the LHIN, SDH doctors and staff and the passionate community to create a shining example of what rural health care can be – I and many members of the community are ready to get to work and serve in any capacity where we are needed.

Or we can go back to using our boundless energy and financing to continue to wage war with the LHIN and your government. All of this negative energy could and should be used to work in the positive pursuit of our SDH and rural health care.

Mr. Minister, the community served by SDH gets it, both Maria Van Bommel MPP and Pat Hoy MPP get it, the SOS Committee gets it, the doctors and nurses get it, the CKHA gets it so why does the LHIN not get it?

We respectfully request that the LHIN accept the request of the CKHA for a five year reprieve and that you, in turn, request that the LHIN cease in carrying forward with a flawed report and a flawed consultation process and ultimately wasting more hard earned taxpayer dollars. This will allow all of us to move forward together, in unity, to the betterment of our community, the CKHA and the Province of Ontario.  


Jeff Wesley
SOS Committee  

Premier of Ontario
Maria Van Bommel MPP
Pat Hoy MPP
Erie St.Clair LHIN Board Members
CKHA Tri-Board Chairpersons
Gary Switzer, CEO LHIN
Ken Tremblay, CEO CKHA
SOS Distribution List