Health minister throws north Scarborough residents a bone
On Thursday, Oct. 10, the Ontario government threw the Scarborough residents living north of the 401 a bone. The minister of health has shown that the concerns of the people most affected by the scheduled closure of two of the departments at Scarborough Hospital-Grace Division (Birchmount Campus) don’t matter or carry any weight.
She has sided with the administration and board of directors of the Scarborough Health Network (SHN) stating that she stands “behind the decision that was made by the administration and the board of the hospital” to close the two departments despite the receiving letters from numerous doctors outlining numerous situations where the closure of the departments could put the lives of women and children at risk.
The minister went on to say that the board and administration had “done very thorough work in looking at the situation” but they did not consult the doctors, nurses and patients who will be most affected by these closures.
The minister of health announced that the Ontario government would be investing up to $500,000 to support the early planning to redevelop and expand the hospital’s emergency department. The redevelopment and expansion of the emergency department will take place sometime in the future. No money has been committed for the actual redevelopment and expansion of the emergency department.
However, the closure of the obstetric and in-patient pediatric departments at the Grace Hospital is happening effective Oct. 30. The obstetric department will be moved south of the 401 to the Scarborough General Hospital — 10 kilometres away.
The Grace Hospital is the only Scarborough hospital north of the 401. According to the 2016 census, the total Scarborough population living north of the 401 was 306,620 of which 45,605 were children under the age of 15 and 46,925 were women between the ages of 20 and 44.
The closure of these two departments means obstetrics and in-patient pediatrics care will be a half-hour to an hour car or taxi ride in non-rush hour traffic. Visiting a new mother and baby or an ill child will also be a half-hour to an hour car or taxi ride in non-rush hour traffic.
In the immediate future, over 20,000 new housing units are scheduled to be built in my ward (Scarborough-Agincourt). This will mean over 50,000 new residents being added north of the 401 in my ward alone. The hospital administration has ignored this fact and did not take the ongoing needs of the old and new residents into consideration.
Scarborough residents living north of the 401 have lost their “general hospital.” We are going to have to be forever vigilant to ensure that the minister’s promise of a new and improved, expanded emergency department is actually built.
Ward 22 councillor