Closure of Petrolia Emergency Department Would Put Patients At Risk: Ontario
Health Coalition Calls Upon Province to Intervene

SARNIA-LAMBTON, ON, July 20 /CNW/ - The Ontario Health Coalition is calling on the McGuinty government to intervene to keep open the emergency department at the Charlotte Eleanor Englehart hospital in Petrolia.

"In other communities, hospital corporations and the provincial government have made arrangements to bring in physicians to help provide emergency department coverage in times of physician shortages. This has happened all over Ontario. Some examples include Leamington, South Hampton, Uxbridge, Kitchener and there are many many others," noted Natalie Mehra, director of the Ontario Health Coalition. "Bluewater Health should intervene to save the overnight emergency department services, but failing this, the McGuinty government must step in and protect these vital services for patients."

"This should be a publicly-accountable process. Bluewater Health and the provincial government should tell the population of Petrolia and rural Lambton counties what measures, if any, they are taking to forestall the closure of Petrolia's emergency department," she concluded.

Options that the provincial government has to maintain vital emergency department services and other hospital services in rural areas include:

    -   Create emergency task forces in partnership with municipalities,
        local physician recruitment committees, regional planning bodies and
        local hospital management. Leverage the connections, knowledge,
        skills and resources of these groups to create and implement
        meaningful plans to alleviate shortages.
    -   Build on the improvements to medical school enrollment in family
        medicine programs by the McGuinty government. Continue to increase
        space for medical school positions to meet population need for family
        physicians, coupled with medical school recruitment processes to
        encourage rural and northern applicants and those committed to family
        medicine and practices in rural and northern communities.
    -   Continue and expand the work of Health Force Ontario and Ontario
        Medical Association programs that are providing better access through
        supporting recruitment and retention, mentorship, and locums.
    -   Actively promote the team of health care professionals including
        nurse practitioners and allied health professionals working to their
        scopes of practice, by creating or expanding funding mechanisms and
        support targeted first to those areas with severe access to care
        issues and those at risk of declining access to care.
    -   Bring in physicians from other communities to maintain local
        emergency departments and other vital services when they are at risk.

"The emergency department services are vital to reduce patient's risk of death or poor health outcomes," said Arlene Patterson, chair of the Sarnia Lambton Health Coalition. "The Sarnia Lambton Health Coalition will be providing informational leaflets throughout the county and we are calling on all residents to call, email or write to Bluewater Health and the McGuinty government to ask them to intervene to save the emergency department services."

SOURCE Ontario Health Coalition

For further information: For further information: Arlene Patterson, 519-542-1895 or Helen Havlik, 519-882-0357

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