(WINDSOR, ON) – Earlier this week, an old story from the CBC in 2011 was resurrected on social media. The article dealt with proposed work to be done at the now Ouellette Campus of Windsor Regional Hospital, funding of $80 million from the province, and $9.2 million raised in donations from area residents.
It didn’t take long for some to start questioning the facts as laid out by the public broadcaster. For instance, there was supposed to be a 75,000 square foot expansion built at Hotel Dieu to house two angioplasty suites. As well, the Jeanne Mance building was to be torn down.
Construction of the addition to the hospital was to be completed by early this year, but no one on social media, it seems, was able to recall there being any addition being built. Others raised questions regarding the expense of over $90 million being spent just to tear down the hospital as part of the move to a single site acute care facility on the edge of the city.
The Square contacted the president and chief executive officer of Windsor Regional Hospital, David Musyj, and put forth a number of questions about the project. To his credit, Musyj promptly replied with information in an attempt to lay to rest any concerns people may have.
There was no mention of the expansion for the angioplasty suites, although Musyj did say that the hospital was proceeding with a new Cardiac Catheterization Lab, or “Cath Lab”, and a dialysis facility at the Bell Building. He then directed attention to a 2014 news release from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
“We are proceeding with both the “Cath Lab” addition and the “Bell Building” dialysis project,” Musyj wrote to The Square. “We are awaiting on approval to go to RFP on the Cath Lab project (as has been reported on numerous occasions) and are currently under construction for the Bell building project.”
It would appear, however, that the new Cath Lab will come about as a result of renovations to 20,000 square feet on the 5th floor at the Ouellette Campus and not through the construction of a 75,000 square foot addition. The renovations were to have begun in the fall last year, but the timetable has been pushed out while awaiting the approval for the RFP.
The Cath Lab project was also to be combined with the relocation of the day surgery program to the 2nd floor at Ouellette Campus.
These projects, along with the dialysis project, were the precursors to the Health System Plan currently being discussed and planned. Though not approved by the Ministry of Health, the proposal is to construct a single site acute care facility on County Road 42 followed by the demolition of both the Ouellette and Met Campuses.
“The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care through their Deputy Premiere Dwight Duncan started the process in 2012 as outlined in this report,” wrote Musyj. “This resulted in the current W/E Health System project we are proceeding with, subject to the continuation of the Cath Lab and Bell Building planning.”
Insofar as questions surrounding the spending of millions of dollars only to be torn down at a later date, Musyj was clear that his mandate is to continue to provide medical services to the community in the interim.
“You have to appreciate that we need to continue to operate and invest wisely in hospital health care for our region while we await the full implementation of the W/E Hospital system plan,” he wrote. “That is possibly 10 years away and is not a guarantee.”
Musyj used the Ronald McDonald House as an example of how services are continuing to be provided though the future is unclear.
“[RMH] made a decision to invest in the Met campus knowing full well of the longer term plans. They also committed to investing in the new acute care hospital when built,” Musyj explained. “RMH is full almost every day. Anyone who says they should not have made that investment because of the longer term plans is short sighted and clearly is not thinking about the hundreds of families that will be served over the next ten years.”