The location of a long discussed health services hub in Quinte West is up in the air.
Over 2 years of discussion, it had always been assumed the prime location for the hub would be right next
to Trenton Memorial Hospital.
However, a recent consultant’s report shows contaminants in the property’s soil, some of which are above acceptable
The contamination originated with a long gone garbage dump.
And Tuesday, it was revealed that the healthcare funding agency for this part of Ontario, the Southeast Local Health Integration Network, had decided that because of the rough estimate of almost $800,000 to clean up the TMH site, the hub would instead be built on clean property on Murphy Street in downtown Trenton, which is owned by the Belleville Quinte West Community Health Centre.
That news alarmed members of OurTMH, the Trenton Memorial Hospital Foundation and members of Quinte West council, all of whom want the hub next to the hospital. Quinte Health Care donated the land for the proposed hub.
Today (Thursday), the Southeast Local Health Integration Network hosted a meeting of the partners involved in the health hub.
The boardroom was packed as a busload of OurTMH members stood looking in on the meeting.
CEO of the Southeast LHIN, Paul Huras, came straight to the point. He believes a cleanup cost of $775,000 on the hospital property would likely be just the beginning. He said that usually when soil remediation begins, costs go up and sometimes they go up dramatically.
He said the Ministry would not fund such an expensive, risky proposition and doing so would not be a prudent use of scarce taxpayer dollars.
Huras also said more study and remediation work would only delay the building of a health hub, and the hub was a project that should be a priority because of growing demands for health services in the community.
He also said that more testing of groundwater needed to be done and that could add to the cost of cleaning the hospital land.
However, that point was contested by Brad Harrington of Quinte Health Care who said further testing had been done and the groundwater test results had come back negative, meaning there was no concern with it.
Huras said he was unaware of that round of testing and that that issue needed to clarified.
CEO Huras finished by saying that the decision on a hub location would be delayed, at least until after a meeting with the mayor of Quinte West Jim Harrison next week. The mayor understands the issues, but is a strong supporter of a hub being built next to the hospital.
Chair of the Trenton Memorial Hospital Foundation Phil Wild asked the Executive Director of the Belleville Quinte West Community Health Centre Sheila Braidek if their property downtown was clean and would have room for the partners and space for others to move into a new building.
Braidek said the property was clean and the building could go up 3 storeys, making it roomy enough for all of the partners. She was less clear on the amount of parking available at the Murphy Street site.
Meanwhile, Phil Wild also suggested that since the preferred location had always been near the hospital, perhaps the community could fundraise and pay for the soil cleanup, thereby avoiding government funding.
Paul Huras said that might be an option, but it would cause more delay.
Meanwhile, chair of OurTMH Mike Cowan asked whether another location could still be an option. Huras said yes.
Cowan said he made three calls today and he has a very good chunk of land that might possibly be purchased for a health hub. He will tell
Mayor Harrison about the property before the meeting with the LHIN.
Representatives from the Victorian Order of Nurses and Addictions and Mental Health Services both said they supported the hub in the downtown and the sooner it was built the better because of an ever increasing demand for their services.
Wendy Parker of the Brighton Quinte West Family Health Team said people should focus on patients and their needs and not get bogged down in dragged out discussions about location.
The partners in the health hub are the Belleville Quinte West Community Health Centre (lead agency), VON, Addictions and Mental Health Services Hastings and Prince Edward, Home and Community Care (formerly Community Care Access Centre), and the Brighton Quinte West Family Health Team.
On another subject, Executive Director of the foundation Wendy Warner wondered about another piece of property near the hospital that had been selected to be a site for a brand new hospital when it’s needed in the years ahead.
That site is contaminated as well, and rough estimates put the cleanup costs at $2.5 million.
She surmised that that would rule out the property for a new hospital.
LHIN CEO Paul Huras said it likely would and a new hospital would have to go elsewhere.
At this time, it’s not known exactly when the LHIN will meet with Quinte West Mayor Jim Harrison, but it will be some time next week.