Petrolia hospital advocates say there’s no threat to CEE

Liz MacDonald (far right) helps Petrolia residents sign a petition to save hospital services at a rally outside CEE.

Liz MacDonald (far right) helps Petrolia residents sign a petition to save hospital services at a rally outside CEE.

Officials with Charlotte’s Task Force for Rural Health say there is no threat to the Petrolia hospital now.

That comes after a recent protest where about 50 people stood in front of CEE to voice concerns about shrinking services as part of the Ontario Health Coalition’s Day of Protest. Some protesters talked about the new phone system based out of Sarnia which makes it difficult to reach people inside the Petrolia hospital and others are concerned about reduced staffing, such as a receptionist in the xray department, which slows service.

And p[otesters called for CEE to be listed as a hospital to protect it from the cuts which they say are harming service.

Helen Havlik, one of the representatives of the Sarnia-Lambton Health Care Coalition, agrees. “I do feel CEE is in jeopardy because of the insidious little cuts that are being made,” she says.

Havlik and the local health coalition are circulating a petition which calls for the province to list CEE as a hospital instead of site of Bluewater Health. It also calls on Bluewater Health to find ways to make sure it doesn’t cut the services from CEE which make it a “full-service autonomous small rural hospital.”

But Sylvia Fairbank of Charlotte’s Task Force – a group originally formed to protect the small hospital – says the group is incorrect about CEE’s status.

“It (CEE) is in the Public Health Act…it is a hospital. It’s there,” says Fairbank. The confusion may be a result of CEE named under Bluewater Health’s listing but she says it is named as a hospital with all the protection that includes. This information can be found in the Act at:

But Fairbank goes further, saying the relationship between Charlotte’s Task Force and Bluewater Health is very good right now. “If there is ever a rumour, we go directly to Sue (Denomy, Bluewater Health’s CAO) or to the LHINS and find out what’s going on… that’s how we win; by keeping the doors open, by communication …instead of just going with negativity.”

Fairbank concedes there have been problems with the new centralized phone system since it was introduced four months ago, but Bluewater Health is working on it.

And she says there is no truth to the rumour that the lab services will be closed. “We’re really doing well right now,” says Fairbank adding there will be cost-saving measures at CEE, but that’s expected in a time when health care dollars are being cut.

– Heather Wright