Rural Chesley to rally to save its hospital and close-to-home emergency care

There have recently been several temporary closures at rural hospital emergency departments in Grey-Bruce counties due, primarily, to lack of staff.

In South Bruce Grey Hospital Centre (SBGHC) district, the Chesley site has experienced recent temporary closures throughout the winter.  The facility has 19 beds – 9 active, 5 Restorative Care and 5 new ALC. It includes Telemetry units and a Cardiac Care bed and runs the ER on a 24-hour service.

Although a smaller rural hospital, it offers in-patient Physio and Diagnostic Imaging that includes x-ray, ultrasound, Holter monitoring, ECG, and Spirometry. There is also CT scanning only 20 minutes away in Walkerton and PACS Lab – blood drawn and sent to Walkerton Lab daily and PRN, with results back via EMR quickly, provided winter road conditions allow. The EMR is also Citrix, Cerner and Power Chart and is connected to all hospitals in Grey Bruce with access to videoconferencing (OTN) and Clinical Connect.

The hospital is also located directly adjacent to the Chesley Medical Clinic.

Unfortunately, like many hospitals throughout rural Ontario, staff shortages have resulted in temporary Emergency Department closures, particularly during night and weekend shifts.  In addition, in Bruce and Grey Counties, geography and climate with winter conditions play a large role in providing essential services.

“Since 1948, when the Chesley and District Memorial Hospital opened, there have been at least two major attempts by the government to have it closed in favour of larger facilities in nearby towns. Each time the move has met with strong protest from the townspeople and the doctors, as an active hospital is crucial to a town’s ability to offer full medical services to its people.”

In rural communities, geography is a key when it comes to hospital care. During winters, rural roads can often be closed and emergency hospital care close-to-home can mean a difference between life and death.

The Chesley Hospital has a long and often troubled history in its struggle to keep a viable and fully equipped hospital in town.  At least one more attempt by the government to close the hospital was made in 1992. At that time, the residents rallied to defend it and won the day but … the struggle continues. Past generations have fought to maintain the hospital and now the struggle has returned.

Residents are again being asked to “… Stand strong and join us in supporting our hospital and our ER.”

Out of concern for the hospital, residents will be holding a rally on April 1st from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Chesley Community Centre to support the hospital and ensure a fully functioning ER service, local health care workers and physician recruitment.