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West Grey 'ready to fight' to save Durham hospital amidst bed losses


Almost two months ago, the emergency department (ED) at Durham’s Community Hospital started an indefinite evening and overnight closure due to a lack of staff.

“We were guaranteed that [the emergency department] would stay as 12 hours, and doing this would solve our issues. 45 days later, ‘Oh no, we’re going to take out the beds now,’” said a frustrated West Grey Mayor Kevin Eccles.

On April 24, the South Bruce Grey Health Centre (SBGHC) said an “intensified” nursing shortage requires 10 Durham inpatient beds to be transferred to hospitals in Walkerton and Kincardine.

Durham’s ED will remain open for 12 hours a day, and diagnostic imaging and lab services will remain, but many in the Durham community fear losing their only inpatient beds means their hospital is in danger of closing.

“Tiny steps towards the end. We can see it,” said Save the Durham Hospital group member Kris Kennedy.

At a special council meeting Tuesday, West Grey council agreed to fight the bed losses and seek legal advice on how best to keep the Durham hospital open.

A sign supporting the hospital at Municipality of West Grey’s headquarters in Durham, seen on April 30, 2024. (Scott Miller/CTV News London)

"The citizens here need to be serviced for our healthcare needs, not have their healthcare needs taken away from them,” said West Grey resident Christine Robinson, who was at Tuesday’s standing-room only special council meeting.

SBGHC officials say they have no plans to close Durham’s hospital, and the bed transitions slated to take place June 3 out of Durham are necessary due to chronic and worsening nursing shortages.

“Our priority is to ensure the delivery of safe and high-quality care, and we will continue to work with both the Ministry of Health and Ontario Health to ensure services are maintained across all SBGHC sites,” said SBGHC President and CEO Nancy Shaw.

SBGHC said they plan to hold town hall meetings about the Durham hospital changes in the near future.

Municipality of West Grey Mayor Kevin Eccles, seen on April 30, 2024. (Scott Miller/CTV News London)

However, the community isn’t waiting. They’re hosting a public meeting at Durham’s arena on May 7 to let everyone know that they don’t want their hospital to close.

“It’s just an important component of our community. And we don’t want to lose it, and we shouldn’t be losing it,” said Kennedy.

“The hospital needs to remain open, the beds needs to stay here, and our ER needs to be enhanced, back to 24-hour care,” said Robinson.

“We’re proud of what we have here and we’re not going to let it go,” said Eccles.

Kennedy said this is the third time over the past 60 years that Durham’s Hospital has been in danger of closing.

The last two times, community pressure and innovative solutions kept the hospital open. Top Stories

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