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Windsor-Essex, the MEGA Hospital and New Ontario Provincial Budget. Triple Header!

Welcome friends, grab yourself a Cup of Joe, sit back and relax and let’s talk about the MEGA great news Windsor Essex received yesterday in the Ontario provincial budget

Photo: Staff and guests gather at Windsor Regional Hospital, Met Campus to learn how the new Ontario provincial budget will affect Windsor-Essex Health Care system.

Welcome friends, grab yourself a Cup of Joe, sit back and relax and let’s talk about the MEGA great news Windsor Essex received yesterday in the Ontario provincial budget

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David Musyj, President and CEO, Windsor Regional Hospital, and Steering Committee co-chair.

Yesterday afternoon at Queen’s Park, David Musyj, President and CEO, Windsor Regional Hospital, and Steering Committee co-chair, had been sequestered from the outside world (including from his electronic communication devices) in a locked room along with a few other invited guests and handed the Ontario Provincial Budget document before it was officially tabled in the Legislative Assembly. He quickly thumbed through to the section dealing with health care allocations. When his eyes landed on a few sentences, he must have felt like the Tilbury resident who looked at the seven numbers of his Lotto MAX ticket in February and saw they matched the grand prize winner. For, Musyj, he and Windsor Essex, had won the Ministry of Health ‘Mega Hospital Funding Lottery’. Windsor Essex’s proposed Regional Acute Care Hospital – part of the proposed larger Windsor Regional Health Care System – had been given the green light to proceed to stage two of the five stage process for new hospital construction.

Musing on this news, Musyj recalled Premier Wynne’s commitment a few years ago, “I will not forget about Windsor – not by any stretch.” This was her response to concerns that there was no Liberal MPP representation in Windsor Essex – for years, a Liberal stronghold. And Wynne was true to her word! When Deputy Minister of Health and Longterm Care, Dr. Bob Bell, asked Musyj for his reaction to the budget, all the latter could get out was, “It’s Christmas in April for Windsor!”.

Former NDP MPP and Education Minister David Cooke, co-chair of a Steering Committee of regional partners overseeing planning of this project, heard yesterday a local University of Windsor Political Science Professor predict in the media that, in her view, Windsor stood little chance of reaping financial rewards in the budget. Cooke found her view of governance to be cynical. He stated, “Governments act in the public interest, regardless of their local representation”. After the budget was tabled, he sent her off a friendly message reminding her of how well Windsor did in this budget. (It should be noted that this political science professor has been off the mark a number of times in recent years; most notably in the Liberal majority wins in the province of Ontario, and nationally. Perhaps a sabbatical is in order?)

On Friday morning, a joint “Town Hall” session was held at the Met Campus with employees, volunteers, and professional staff of Windsor Regional Hospital and Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, along with members of the community and media. The Town Hall session linked all three sites – WRH’s Met and Ouellette Campuses, as well as HDGH’s Tayfour Campus, via video conference.

“With this budget, the Ontario government has given the green light for the Windsor-Essex Hospitals System proposal to move forward in the planning process– a key milestone that ensures it’s now just a matter of “when,” not “if” we are getting a new state-of-the-art hospital for our region! This is now a reality!” – David Musyj, President and CEO, Windsor Regional Hospital

“What this means is that the decision makers heard loud and clear that Windsor-Essex supports this once-in-a-lifetime, desperately needed transformation of healthcare delivery for our region,” said Cooke.

Providing background to where the project currently stands, Musyj explained that a Stage 1 proposal was submitted to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in July 2015. As a result of yesterday’s budget, Windsor will now move forward as part of the five-stage process before the needed infrastructure investments are open to patients. The next Stage (2) in the planning process, also referred to as the “Functional Program,” is a very detailed description of how the new system will operate.  It is the primary document used to develop the building design for the new hospital and will also include a detailed description of how programs and services will function and examine staffing and equipment needs.

Due to the magnitude of the planning that needs to be done it will still be years before there is a “shovel in the ground.” “We are still 7-10 years away from occupancy of the first components of the plan,” said Musyj. “However, some of the most important work is done in the upcoming stages to make sure we get it right when it comes to planning how the hospitals will operate and what is required to make them not only supportive of today’s patient population, but for generations to come.”

The Steering Committee members and community supporters – including both City and County councils and local Members of Provincial Parliament – recognize that Windsor-Essex deserves this hospital healthcare proposal. “This is the right plan for our region and one that will dramatically improve the ability of our hard-working clinical staff and medical professionals to deliver the best care possible in a modernized environment for patients at both the acute and post-acute facilities,” said Janice Kaffer, President and CEO, Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare.

Shortly after the budget was tabled, a small group of local residents who form the group CAMPP – Citizens for an Accountable Mega-hospital Planning Process – who continue to oppose the site selection of the new Acute Care Hospital at County Road 42 and Concession 9, posted on their website and reported to local news media the following:
“Ontario Ministry of Health Policy Advisors assured us in several recent conference calls that the funding for the hospital being announced is not an approval of the proposed site.”
When asked about their statement, CEO Musyj clearly stated, “the site selection issue is no longer an issue. The site is final. Moving from stage one to stage two assures us of this.” (See his brief interview below for a clear statement with respect this issue).

Looking greatly relaxed and relieved from these recent developments, Musyj even jokingly questioned what Las Vegas odds are for who completes their mega projects first: the new Gordie Howe International Bridge, or the new Windsor Essex Regional Health Care System. In either case, the job future for skilled trades personnel looks great!

Musyj and The Steering Committee extend an invitation for those residents of Windsor Essex who are interested in taking an active role in the next stages of planning visit online and register your name and email address.

Joe Interviews David Musyj, President &  CEO of Windsor Regional Hospital

Story, photos and video interview by Joe McParland

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