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NHS supervisor looks for input on new hospital plan

5/4/2012

A plan for the future of healthcare in Niagara is out.  Now, the supervisor to the Niagara Health System wants to hear what you think.

The biggest of Dr Kevin Smith's recommendations is to close hospitals in Niagara Falls, Welland, Fort Erie & Port Colborne.  They'd be replaced with a new hospital & a seperate urgent care centre somewhere in the southern part of region.

Newstalk 610 CKTB listeners got the chance to weigh in & ask Dr Smith about his plan, as the supervisor took calls on the Tom McConnell Show Friday.

Caller Bill isn't imprssed with the plan, calling it worse than what we currently have.  He'd like to see all NHS sites stay open, but scaled back.  Dr Smith says that modified status quo model doesn't address problems like having enough physican coverage to keep programs running everywhere, all the time.  Smith expects that challenge to get worse in coming years.

Silvana lives in Niagara Falls & is legally blind.  She wants to know how people like her, on disability, will be able to get to a hospital somewhere central in South Niagara.  The plan does include a recommendation for a transporation model to help low income patients including the elderly & those suffering mental health problems & their families.  Smith believes that working with volunteer groups, they could target at-risk patients through a transportation service.  If it isn't possible, Dr Smith says the NHS could subsizde it.

Joe, who lives in the Falls too, is also worried about transpotation.  He wants to know how the plan will make sure ambulances get from different cities to a south Niagara hospital as quickly as possible. Dr Smith says it's  all about working closesly with EMS & they're onboard with the plan.

Niagara Falls city councillor & CAW Local 199 boss Wayne Gates called in to ask when we can expect a review of the Hospital Improvement Plan.  The hospital resrtuction plan was introdued by the NHS in 2007. It's the plan that forced the closure of emergency rooms in Port Colborne & Fort Erie, among other changes.  Over the next few months, Dr Smith will be drafting a side-by-side comparison of what his plan recommends & what the HIP recommended & an explanation of the differences.

Dr Kevin Smith is encouraging feedback on his plan to rehab Niagara healthcare.  You can tell him what you think by emailing him at nhssupervisor@gmail.com  A polling firm will also call 1000 Niagara homes in the coming weeks to guage support.

Dr Smith will use the input to compile his final report, which he expects to deliver to Health Minister in mid-June.

Related stories:

NHS supervisor pitches mega hospital for South Niagara

EXCLUSIVE: Health Minister calls south Niagara hospital plan ''ambitious''

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