Bluewater Health wants to invest $4.75 million in Charlotte Eleanor Englehart Hospital.
But the investment is several years away and a community-fundraising campaign will have to be mounted to pay for at least some of the project.
A two-phase plan was presented to the hospital’s board April 22 at a meeting in Petrolia.
Mike Lapaine, vice president of operations, in a report says the plan will improve the emergency department, relocate the administration to the basement of the Continuing Care wing and return the historic Charlotte Eleanor Englehart home to the town.
The first phase of the plan calls for the redevelopment of the emergency department for better patient and staff flow, a new ambulance entrance separate from the walk-in entrance, and new registration centre to allow for remote registration. That would cost about $2.01 million.
The second part of the construction would reorganize hospital services to “one central and modern location” from the older section of the hospital to the lower level of the continuing care building. Moving the services downstairs would “completely segregate the building from the rest of the hospital and hand it back to the Town of Petrolia with the intent they run it as a full heritage site,” writes Lapaine.
That part of the construction is estimated at $2.73 million.
And that might not be the end to construction. Lapaine suggests there may need to be an exterior entrance to link the ER and the Continuing Care together.
Lapaine says the Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network will now take a look at the plan and talk to the Ministry of Health to approve the layout and advise on how it would be funded.
There is a chance the Ministry would provide up to 90 per cent of the capital to renovate or, Lapaine says Bluewater Health would use “Own” funding, relying on the community raise the bulk of the cash for the work.
Lapaine says full community financing would mean the work would move along faster but any work is still several years off. If the ministry provided funding “the time line is much longer many years to get to the point of approval,” he says noting it took more than a decade to get all the approvals to build Sarnia’s site.
“There are no guarantees on any timeline,” he says. “You keep pursuing keep pressuring and hoping for approvals.”
Rosanne Orcutt of Charlotte’s Taskforce for Rural Health says it is a “wonderful plan.
“It’s something we’ve been hoping for, for a long time,” she says.
Orcutt is particularly pleased to see separate entrances for people and ambulances. “The current public entrance isn’t visitor friendly,” she says. “You can walk in and start to wander and find yourself in the middle of the Acute Care Floor.”
She’s also pleased to see a plan to return Charlotte’s home to the town – something an arbitrator suggested when there was a threat to close the emergency department.
“That’s one of the things we wanted, was the return of the artifacts in the building to the people of Petrolia,” says Orcutt. “It means a great deal to the people of Petrolia.”
And she says it would be an “ideal place” for a museum. “It’s such a treasure, it just needs to be open more.”
While the plan may take some time to unfold, Orcutt is excited. “I think it’s a commitment to CEEH, I really do,” she says. “I know people are scared – especially with this economic climate…but I think there is a commitment from Bluewater Health to CEEH…(and) this will be a wonderful little model for rural health care.”