People encouraged to attend rural health strategy sessions

A joint release by the chairmen of North Wellington Health Care and Groves Memorial Com­mu­nity Hospitals is urging residents to attend coming rural health strategy sessions to show support for maintaining local hospitals.

A press release issued earlier this week stated, “Signi­ficant reductions in provincial taxation revenues have resulted in delays in funding announcements for hospitals from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care and the Waterloo-Wellington Local Integration Network (WWLHIN). “

The uncertainty of available funding means local hospitals will no longer be required to sub­mit budget plans by Nov. 30. In the absence of that re­quirement, the hospitals are working with the WWLHIN and other health care providers to ensure a health care system without affecting patients’ services. Details of a new budget process will be released by the province in late-Novem­ber.

Local hospital boards have acknowledged while changes are expected as the health care system evolves, availability of quality local health care services remains critically important. Patti-Jo McLellan-Shaw, chair of North Wellington Health Care, said, “As the primary provider of acute care services in rural Wellington, North Wellington Health Care re­mains committed to two vibrant hospital sites, in Mount Forest and Palmerston, including the provision of emergency services.”

Gord Feniak, chairman of Groves, in Fergus, agreed, saying, “Despite the uncertainty within the health care environment, we continue to advance health care services in rural Wellington through initiatives such as the recently commissioned CT Scan and the development of a new Hospital proposal.”

The WWLHIN is responsible to plan, manage, and fund the health care system locally. As part of that responsibility,  a new integrated health services plan  is being developed for 2010 to 2013. It, along with the recommendations of the rural health strategy, will aid in future decisions for health care services in rural Waterloo-Well­ington.

The network will be hosting a series of information sessions on the draft report and recommendations from the rural health strategy.

One of the sessions will be held at the Harriston and Minto community complex, 111 George Street South, Harriston from 7 to 9pm on Dec. 2.

Groves Hospital and North Wellington Health Care have been strong participants in the development of the rural health strategy for the network.

Citizens are encouraged to attend in Harriston or provide feedback to the network through http://www.­waterloo­