There has been a lot of talk in the community lately about health care in Wellington. As Board Chair of the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network (WWLHIN), I want to take the time to share my perspective and the perspectives of the many residents we’ve spoken with.
As a Board, we have directed the hospital Boards of North Wellington Health Care (NWHC) and Groves Memorial Hospital (GMH) to work together, so that the needs of all residents in Wellington can be represented. We want to be clear; the WWLHIN believes that all the hospital sites are critical to achieving our goals to improve the health system, and they will remain open and operating.
Our mission at the WWLHIN is to make sure that all 750,000 residents living in our area have equitable access to high quality health care, close to their homes. What does that look like to you as a parent, who wants the absolute best for your child? Or perhaps you are a senior who wishes to live independently and receive care when you need it in your own home? As a community member who has generously donated to your local hospital over the years?
Studies have shown that, on average, residents in rural Wellington have poorer health outcomes and poorer access to care. Patients wait longer for treatment and travel farther to see specialists. They have higher rates of death compared to people who live in urban areas. If both hospital Boards in Wellington work together, we can make this better.
In 2013, both Boards committed to moving forward together to make improvements to the health system, however, they have experienced disputes at a governance level. They have discussed this issue at length but have been unable to find common ground. In July 2015, we received a letter from North Wellington Health Care requesting that we appoint an experienced mediator/facilitator to help resolve these issues and to identify and choose options through which to move forward, and that is what we have done. You can view the Board letters here: www.wwlhin.on.ca/forhsps/ruralwellington.
The reality is, that not one of these hospitals can exist without the others and they must act now to ensure the sustainability of health services for the community. Both Boards care deeply for residents and they know that they need to work together to align their objectives to provide stability to the rural health system and continuously improve access to health care for residents.
The facilitator is working with the hospital governors, staff and the community to resolve these issues and focus on what is important; improving health care in Wellington for the benefit of residents. Much of this work will involve discussions with the public, to ensure your needs are heard. The path that the Boards choose to move forward with will be in the best interest of all residents of Wellington County and will support the collaboration that already exists between community partners, hospital staff, the public, family health teams, mental health providers and others.
Our goal is to ensure that all of our residents can get the care they need seamlessly, when they need it, no matter where they live. We think that everyone should have equal access to care and the best chance to live a long and healthy life.
Chair, Board of Directors
Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network