Petrolia pitching seniors’ housing and care on land around local hospital


Bluewater Health gives $442 K for study



It’s still in the vision stage but a plan to build a new senior’s health park in Petrolia is moving forward.

Approved unanimously by the Bluewater Health board, the proposal will see the creation of a connected health hub. Centered on a large block of property — likely with access to the CEEH site — the complex will provide housing and care for aging seniors — from retirement through to palliative care.

A bid for funding for a portion of the $442,000 planning bill will come before Petrolia Council, Dec. 12.

It’s also then specific details will be unveiled.

Petrolia Councillor Mary Pat Gleeson, one of the presenters at the board meeting, says the health park is a way to address the coming wave of seniors needing care.

She wants Central Lambton to be ahead of the curve.

“We want to write our own narrative,” Gleeson says, adding the project, tentatively titled the ‘Central Lambton Health Park’ will allow family members to be near their loved ones without leaving the community.

“We want to create a culture of sustainable care and support,” Gleeson explains, so “families aren’t so stressed.”

Gleeson, who is chair of the Central Lambton Family Health Team, said the need for health care is growing.

The team is now servicing 14,000 patients up from 10,000 two-and-a-half years ago with a growing catchment area.

With a focus on long-term planning 20 to 30 years “down the road,” Gleeson says, data shows the need is there.

Currently, she adds, many are forced to leave Petrolia to get the services they need.

Physical health is not the only thing the senior’s health park will address.

Isolation, says Gleeson — especially in rural populations — is especially tough on the elderly.

“Loneliness can be more deadly than cancer,” she adds. “This is a way to deal with it by bringing people together.”

According to Gleeson, the park will offer a one-stop scenario for care. The proposal includes construction of condominiums or apartments, assisted living facilities, along with long-term and palliative care. Services such as dentistry, will be also be offered.

The infrastructure for the park is already in place, Gleeson says, with the town and the hospital foundation owning lots near the hospital.


Other communities have embraced what is considered to be a forward-thinking concept says Petrolia CAO Manny Baron.

He’s visited a similar facility in Leamington and was impressed.

“They certainly know what they are doing,” Baron notes.

Laurie Zimmer, Bluewater Health’s vice-president of operations commended Petrolia officials for approaching Bluewater Health with the idea.

The Ministry of Health requires specific long-range planning for capital projects.

However, Zimmer adds, the planning doesn’t come for free.

The first submission for pre-capital planning for the project will be submitted to the province in Oct. 2017.

Public input sessions regarding the senior’s health hub will begin in January.

A total cost estimate for the project is expected to be made at the Dec. 12 council meeting.

The new health park concept has already been approved by the Erie-St. Clair LHIN.