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GUEST COLUMN: An open letter to my health minister

Tara Jeffrey Attn: Hon. Dr.

Tara Jeffrey

Attn: Hon. Dr. Eric Hoskins

As you know, officials at my local hospital recently announced plans to slash jobs across the board in order to save some $6 million -- a gut-punch, so-to-speak, to nearly every department at Bluewater Health, from diagnostic imaging to lab workers, to registered nurses.

In fact, the Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) says 39 RNs will lose their jobs as a result, a move that will have “tremendously negative impact on the quality of patient care, and increase the risks our patients have of suffering from a higher risk of complications, and even death.”


For every RN job loss, the risk of patient complications or death increases seven percent, according to ONA, noting 80,000 hours of lost RN care as a result of the cuts at Bluewater Health.

80,000 hours.

“Residents should be outraged,” said Haslam-Stroud, adding that nurses will be cut from the intensive care unit, medicine telemetry, ER, geriatric emergency management, palliative care, cognitively complex care, acute medical in-patient unit, OR, surgical in-patient unit, and day surgery-pre-and post-operative care.

Well, Dr. Hoskins, I’m outraged.

Bluewater Health is reviewing ways to minimize the impact, but how can it possibly uphold its mission of “creating exemplary healthcare experiences for patients and families every time” in a city whose aging population will need more health care than ever in the coming years?

How can your government stand by its plan for “helping people stay healthy, delivering good care when people need it, and protecting the health system for future generations” when we’re being told that wait times for vital procedures like MRIs could be affected; that ICU bed numbers could drop, and that the medicine unit will suffer the biggest blow?

The medicine unit.

Patients at Petrolia’s ER will have to register via video, after-hours, because hospital officials say it’s not busy enough. Tell that to my three-year-old who has racked up more than a few late-night hours there amidst a packed waiting room. What if I suffer a miscarriage? A mental health crisis? A trip to the emergency department is emotionally distressing enough. Now I’ll have to explain my situation to a video screen?

A video screen.

Dr. Hoskins, the residents of Sarnia-Lambton deserve better.

After all, at the end of the day, our health is all we really have.

Tara Jeffrey is a wife, mother, writer and farmer-in-training in Sarnia-Lambton 

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