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Full house attends community meeting about Clinton hospital


A full house of concerned citizens turned out to the latest meeting about the future of the Clinton Public Hospital and its overnight emergency room closure. 

“We need our hospital open 24 hours a day, not just from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. That’s ridiculous,” said Clinton resident and former Clinton Hospital employee Sandy Stewart. 

Clinton’s Emergency Department (ED) closed during the overnight hours on December 2, 2019, due to a lack of nurses.

It has not been open past 6 p.m. since.

Jared Petteplace knows that all too well. The Clinton father has had to stickhandle a sick 2 year old, closed winter roads, and a closed emergency room. 

“We had to make a choice, do we drive to Seaforth or Goderich on a closed road at 11 o’clock at night. That’s when I got very involved in the hospital,” said Petteplace. 

The moderator of the community meeting is the physician who used to manage Clinton’s ED. Dr. Maarten Bokhout retired in 2022 after 30+ years as a Clinton area physician.

Maarten Bokhout, retired Clinton physician, moderated a community discussion about future of the Clinton Public Hospital on April 16, 2024. (Scott Miller/CTV News London)

“I think the reality is there are some things that are possible, and some things which are not possible. It’s certainly changed since I was active as a physician, and I can understand that. I think times move on and they change, but there are some things we may be able to do. We’ll have to see,” he said. 

Although Clinton’s hospital has been a part of the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance (HPHA) with three other local hospitals since 2003, a recent “amalgamation” of the Clinton Hospital corporation with hospital corporations in Stratford, Seaforth, and St. Marys has riled up more concerns. 

Clinton’s local hospital advisory committee submitted a request to leave the HPHA in December of 2022. 

Clinton had hoped to join a hospital alliance including Goderich and Exeter, but their request to leave HPHA was denied by the executive board in May 2023.  

In late 2023, HPHA officials requested the “amalgamation” of their four hospital corporations. 

“I know that Goderich and Exeter have never closed their ERs, and they are right next door. So, there’s definitely a solution to this, but we don’t know what it is, and we’re hoping HPHA can come up with that for us,” said Petteplace. 

Central Huron residents gathered to discuss the future of the Clinton hospital on April 16, 2024, amidst a 4.5 year overnight Emergency Department closure. (Scott Miller/CTV News London)

HPHA officials said they work on Clinton’s ED nursing shortage on a “daily basis” and are committed to operating four fully functioning hospitals.

A crowd of 150 concerned Clinton and area residents believes the time for talk is over, results matter four and half years into an overnight ED closure, with no end in sight. 

“I want to see every hospital offering 24/7 care. It’s like we’re giving them a Corvette, and they’re treating it like a Chevette,” said Clinton resident Scott Lubbers. 

“I have grandchildren here and people that need the hospital after hours. I worked in emerg, in the admitting department for quite a few years, and yes we were busy in the evening, and people need that in this community,” said Clinton grandmother Sandy Stewart.

As part of the recent HPHA amalgamation, local hospital advisory committees in Clinton, Seaforth, St. Marys, and Stratford have been disbanded, to be replaced by community councils.

You can learn more by visiting their website

The Clinton Public Hospital’s Emergency Department, seen in June 2019. (Scott Miller/CTV News London) Top Stories


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