QUINTE WEST – Another twist was thrown into the future of Trenton Memorial Hospital late Tuesday.
And it came as a surprise to the members of Our TMH.
Local MPP Lou Rinaldi announced the creation of a political working group that will “benefit the hospital going forward.”
Rinaldi will chair the working group comprised of Bay of Quinte MP Neil Ellis, Northumberland-Peterborugh South MP Kim Rudd, Quinte West Mayor Jim Harrison and Brighton Mayor Mark Walas.
In addition, Tamara Kleinschmidt, executive director of the Trenton Military Resource Centre, will be on the committee.
Rinaldi issued a statement late Tuesday afternoon.
Tuesday’s announcement took Our TMH chairman John Smylie by surprise. He said at first he was “puzzled” as to why another committee was struck given the current proposals already on the table.
By Wednesday morning, Smylie said he had time to think about the working group.
“We need to talk to Lou and get details on the purpose of the working group,” he said.
Smylie said Our TMH wants a seat at the table.
“The working group has a lot of potential to provide some good political clout. Federal backing could really help further our cause to get out of QHC and open a veteran’s centre,” said Smylie.
Our TMH has presented a number of proposals including operating the hospital separately from Quinte Health Care, creating a health centre and opening a veteran’s care wing.
During a campaign stop in Belleville, the Liberals promised to open several centres of excellence for veterans.
The idea received a lot of attention during the federal election campaign. Our TMH executive members met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In addition, Our TMH also met with several former Conservative cabinet members to pitch the veteran’s centre.
The latest working group was finalized during a closed door meeting Tuesday at city hall in Trenton.
Harrison wasn’t at the meeting.
“Look, there’s already been a number of proposals put forward by Our TMH and the health services advisory committee. We’re looking to move those proposals forward. At the same time it helps to have the federal support, and what we want most is financial help to move the proposals forward. We don’t need any more committees, but we need action,” said Harrison.
In a statement, Rinaldi said he realizes the federal government does not fund individual hospitals.
“However, I think that all senior levels of government collaborating as a team can only lead to positive results. We had a very positive first meeting that I know will lead to continued fruitful results,” said Rinaldi in the statement.
Ellis said he wants to be a “willing participant.”
“Many committees have already put forth very logical solutions. As a political group we can certainly move these forward to help TMH continue to meet the needs of the Quinte area,” said Ellis.
Our TMH met Wednesday morning.
“This could be a good thing for the hospital,” said Smylie.
Smylie said the QHC is really pushing the recommendations of the advisory committee.
Smylie asked Our TMH if it was willing to let QHC run the hospital while the community boards run the health centre portion.
“As long as we own the hospital,” said Tom Kupecz.
Executive members shied away from the idea, saying current restructuring plans can always change.
“The ministry has already come and said those continuing care beds will be moved out of hospital,” said executive member Sue White.
Smylie told Our TMH members the local campaign “has caught the attention” of QHC administrators and the board.
“They are starting to fight back — forcefully — and plan to run advertising in local newspapers,” said Smylie.
QHC erected banners at Trenton Memorial this week stating TMH is here to stay. Another banner states the emergency room will remain open 24/7.
But Our TMH reaffirmed its position to gain ownership of the hospital.
“We’re going to stay the course. We have a great opportunity in Trenton to put forward a new model for health care,” said Smylie.
Our TMH and the Ontario Health Coalition are putting the finishes touches on Friday rally at Trenton’s Centennial Park. The rally starts at noon and runs until 2 p.m.
Originally posted on intelligencer.ca