1. The government’s current new hospital policy in smaller centres is: Build a new hospital on the edge of the community, then demolish the old hospital.
This has happened in North Bay, Peterborough, Owen Sound, St. Catharines, Sault Ste. Marie, Woodstock.
It is proposed for Windsor, Collingwood, Bracebridge and Huntsville, and in each location there is strong local opposition.
2. Problems with this policy:
a) Patients and staff are inconvenienced with longer and more costly travel.
b) It puts the hospital a long way from doctors’ offices and forces them to consider moving.
c) It is often a long way from retirement homes which have much traffic with hospitals.
d) It is contrary to provincial planning policy which urges intensification, not sprawl.
e) It wastes an existing facility and dooms it to demolition.
f) It severely impacts the economic viability of the central area of the community since it takes so many people – staff and visitors – away from central area amenities such as shops and restaurants.
g) It is very costly. Renovating and adding to the existing facilities is usually one third or less of the cost of a new hospital.
h) It assumes that money spent on bricks and mortar will improve health care, when it is usually staff that improve health care.
i) Municipalities must pay the costs of needed new services: sewers, water, and roads.
3. It is clear that new facilities can reduce infections: infections in St. Catharines are down 50 per cent with the new hospital. But the appropriate renovations to old facilities can reduce infections by the same amount.
4. A significant problem with hospitals in smaller centres is the funding policy: the policy has been to flat- line budgets, but in smaller facilities that quickly means a reduction in services.
5. A new policy should be tried as an experiment:
- Assume renovation and additions/expansions, and new facilities for clinic operations which can usually be accommodated on the current site.
- Assess allocation of functions, ie should a specialized function be offered at a separate location
- Estimate cost of renovations and additions/expansions
- Use some of hundreds of million dollars saved to improve the funding formula.