(Editor’s note: the following letter was addressed to Andrew Williams, CEO of the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance. Copies were provided to local media and local ophthalmologist Dr. John Walker.)
I’m writing to let you know that I strongly disagree with the current plans to move eye surgeries to Clinton Public Hospital.
A large number of eye surgeries done in Stratford are cataract surgeries, most likely to be done on senior citizens. I would guesstimate that 90 per cent of all eye surgeries are done for people who live in Stratford or within a 15 minute drive from the city. We are going to be forced to drive an hour on Highway 8 to Clinton, which is very often closed due to inclement weather in the winter months.
As these surgical patients must have someone else drive them home, now two people, probably both senior citizens, will have no other choice but to spend at least two hours on the road. This plan will put many more cars on the road every week adding two hours of unnecessary fumes and emissions from each vehicle.
If the surgeries were to remain in Stratford, patients would have the benefit of arriving with the use of public transportation via bus or cab, or their driver would have the option of going back to work or home for most of the day. Drivers could then pick up the patient when the procedure was finished and they wouldn’t have to waste their entire day driving and sitting in a waiting room in Clinton hospital.
When I had eye surgery last summer, I took a bus to the hospital, and was picked up by a friend who lived in Stratford to come home. It was all very convenient.
I realize that you have to work very hard to find and retain doctors in Stratford, especially specialists. Moving eye surgeries to Clinton also adds two hours of driving for our one eye surgeon. Let’s all hope that he doesn’t get ticked off and move his practice so that we all have to drive to Clinton for our eye appointments and eye surgeries or worse yet, move out of the area entirely.
Stratford, and the outlying area, helps raise and donate significant amounts of money for improvements to our local hospital. Most recently over $20 million dollars was donated for the Heart & Soul campaign, part of which was used to redo the surgical department. We now have excellent facilities and equipment in Stratford for eye surgeries.
Are the facilities and equipment in Clinton as up-to-date as what we have here? I don’t donate money to my local hospital so that I can be told that I have to drive over an hour away for eye surgery or other services I might need, like physiotherapy. It would be nice to see more surgeries and services made available in Stratford, not less.
The Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance is made up of four hospitals, Stratford General being the largest in the two counties of Huron and Perth. The South West Local Health Integration Network, which makes these decisions, has only one non-medical board member from St. Marys.
Why is there not better representation from our two counties, and why don’t doctors or any medical staff have any input to the South West LHIN?
Those who agree with me should contact Andrew Williams, CEO of the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance by email firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 519-272-8210 or letter Stratford Hospital Administration, 46 General Hospital Drive, Stratford, Ontario N5A 2Y6 and/or the South West LHIN by email email@example.com, telephone 1-866-294-5446, or letter addressed to South West Local Health Integration, 201 Queens Avenue, Suite 700, London, Ontario N6A 1J1.
Let’s keep our specialists and surgeons in our city. We need them here.