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Pelee Island Medical Clinic Meeting

July 23, 2011

held at the Pelee Island Winery Pavilion

Present:   Rick Masse-Mayor

                 Ray Durocher-Deputy Mayor

                 Dayne Malloch

                 Darlene Wiper

Staff:       Ann Mitchell

Others:  Deb Bennett

              95 Members of the Public

Mayor Masse introduced Deb Bennett who has been assisting the Township with the Medical Clinic issue.

Ms. Bennett stated that the Township has brought her in as a consultant and she will be reporting to the CAO who will report to Council. Ms. Bennett gave a background report on the nursing staffing issue and stated that she would be working closely with the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.  Ms. Bennett stated that those that were not on the Island for the meeting would be able to go on the website to view the questions and answers. Her contact information would also be on the website. Ms. Bennett will also be on the island for the majority of the summer. Ms. Bennett gave background information on the meetings held with Leamington District Memorial Hospital, Windsor Essex EMS, the CAO from the County of Essex, LHIN’s and the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care concerning Pelee Island medical clinic. Since May 6th there have been three meetings held with all parties concerned.

Ms. Bennett gave a history of the Health Care Facility on the Island. In 1994 Leamington District Memorial Hospital became the sponsoring agency assuming the responsibility for medical delivery on Pelee Island. The Nurse, Marlene Pierce, worked for Leamington District Memorial Hospital. Since Marlene Pierce has retired LDMH decided that the medical services on the Island needed to align with other similar clinics in the province. They indicated that the Hospital would no longer provide 24/ 7 medical coverage for the following reasons:

1.      The number of emergencies that occur per year and the fact that the clinic statistics are down from previous years.

2.      There is difficulty in recruiting nurses to come to the Island.

3.      The Ministry of Health is under a service mandate to provide primary care.

A copy of the Mandate will be put on the website. On behalf of the Community, Ms. Bennett stated that we have been very tolerant and patient during the past few weeks. Pelee was given a transitional plan to address the community’s medical needs until August 29, 2011. Any emergencies must call 911.  Under the Ambulance Act, EMS can only respond and transport. Since there was no nurse after hours the ambulance service now has two paramedics on the Island. Orange (the air ambulance) responds to the acuity of the patient. With the change in medical coverage this leaves no nurse to provide after hours for point of care.

The clinic hours are:

Monday    8:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Tues and Thurs. – No nurse

Wed.         12:00 noon -7:30 p.m.

Friday       12:00 noon -8:00 p.m.

Saturday    8:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m.

Sunday      8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

The only assurance they have provided after August 29th  is that there will be a Nurse Practitioner on Wednesday’s if the weather permits.

It is the municipality’s belief that our community deserves better medical coverage and also homecare. Rather than react, at this time, it was requested that time be permitted to allow the appropriate people to respond. We have addressed this issue with MPP Sandra Pupatello’s office as late as Friday and are awaiting a response. We have been working on a solution to the problem, so that when we have the opportunity to discuss our issue at the Ministry level we can outline the problem and our solution. Ms. Bennett gave out her contact number which will be on the website also. The nurses on the Island are paid by Leamington District Memorial Hospital and must abide by the policies and procedures set forth by that agency. The Nurses can assist during regular hours, otherwise on their off hours they cannot assist or address medical concerns. All nurses are registered under the College of Nurses of Ontario, working outside of their scope, can result in liability issues or in some situations the loss of their license.

Marlene Pierce cannot be expected to be contacted for medical issues. If she responds to medical issues, she can be held legally liable.

Ms. Bennett acknowledged that the Municipality is aware that this current medical model is affecting tourism to the Island, and that this will be addressed when speaking to the MPP’s.

Questions and Answers:

Q:  U.S. Citizen

      Are we supposed to wait to have a heart attack? Do we call the U.S. Coast Guard?

A: The Coast Guard has their own emergency response policies, and we have been told that this is not a viable option.  

Q:  Islander

     What kind of funding has the clinic had in the past and is that being cut?

A: The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care Underserviced Branch has provided funding to the clinic. We have been told by LDMH that the budget submitted for 2011/2012 reflects the new medical model which reduces staffing hours from 8760 hours to 3744 hours.  

Q. U.S. Citizen- Cottage Owner

     Where is the medical component in our taxes?

A.     Ann Mitchell indicated that there are none.

Q. U.S. Citizen – Cottage Owner

     What about Doctors without borders? Can they not come to Pelee?

A.     Excellent point, however there are legal issues that are associated with this.

Q.  Island Resident

     What if you just got rid of Leamington District Hospital and found someone else?

In the case of an accident boating, ruptured appendix, who calls the air ambulance?

A.     The option to find another service provider is there. In the past the Nurse assumed the responsibility of care and called the air ambulance as required. Currently, the ambulance service is calling it in. It is not the mandate of ambulance, nor are they trained to provide ongoing medical care.

Q. Island Business Owner

I have heard some people questioning how much is this lady getting paid. I believe the answer is nothing. Is that correct? Is Deb doing it for free?

A.     Mayor Masse indicated that was correct.  Ms. Bennett stated that she had no vested interest; it was a matter of principle.

Q. Island Business Owner

I am concerned about pulling in the media as it can be a really bad experience. From my experience more can be accomplished at the grass roots level than in the limelight.

A. The municipality has been working with various individuals without going to the media. It was explained that on Wednesday evening at County Council a report will be going forward by ambulance, with regard to the situation and the resulted increase in their budget. The press attends these meetings and will assuredly be asking questions.

Q. Island Business owner

We all have businesses on the Island. All our guests have some concerns and fears. This has, and will continue to affect our tourism and thus our businesses. What do you want all of us to do?

A.     Council is asking for your indulgence and to be there, when and if we need to mobilize you.

Q. Island Resident

Are the medical people involved living in the Stone Age? We have contacts from British Columbia who would be interested. Where do they find the job description? And where do they apply?

A.     It is my understanding that job advertisements will also be put on the Pelee Island web site.

Q. Island Resident

I am concerned with the ambulance attendants. We get the new people and we need the experienced ones to come to Pelee.

A.     We are working closely with Chief Randy Mellow. You can’t dictate who goes where. The ambulance decision makers are well aware of the situation on the Island and are responsible for assigning individuals to the Island.

Q. Island Business Owner

This is all very disheartening. We should move directly to a new strategy to declare us a remote Community. Where is the money going that was originally assigned by the Province to this community? Where are the extra funds, now that they have cut services?

A.     The municipality has asked and has not received an answer.

Q. Island Business Owner

Where are our legal rights? We are paying taxes like everyone else. What are we entitled to?

A.     Every individual has the right to equal access to health care. Many of you have paid for health care and deserve the same type of care that the rest of Ontario receives. The difficulty is that Pelee Island is unique in so much that there is no road access to medical facilities. In situations where emergencies occur, there needs to be medical personnel who are qualified to assist an individual until they can be safely transported off the Island.

Q. U.S. Citizen

 Is the Ministry helping us?

A.     We are hoping that the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care will assist us and respond to this community’s needs.

Q. Island Resident

Are there alternative sponsoring agencies, other than Leamington District Memorial Hospital?

A.     The Municipality has been told that the requirement is that the sponsoring agency must be a corporation and provide the service that is within the mandate. The municipality will continue to keep the community apprised of the situation.

Q. Island Resident

Under the possible option of finding another sponsoring agency will the community have access to the proposed budget? Is there a time frame?

A.     I report to Ann Mitchell. I have been asked to look at other options and hope to have a draft to her by the 2nd week of August.

Q. Mainland Nurse

I am a nurse in Windsor. I inquired about the posting and called the hospital   three times. They never got back to me. I am concerned about ambulance personnel caring for patients. I feel the solution is to have a registered nurse on call.

A.     We have been told that nobody has applied to Pelee postings. Ambulance personnel are aware of their scope of practice. While LDMH is the agency responsible for medical care, the Nurse has to be part of Leamington District Memorial Hospital staff.

Q. Island Resident

     Are we still part of the County? And is Tom Bain aware of the problem?

A.     Pelee is a single tier municipality similar to Windsor. The municipality stands alone. Because the tax base is much smaller than other municipalities it is difficult to meet all of the Provincial demands that are expected. County Council is aware. Mr. Brian Gregg, the CAO for the county has attended most of the meetings and yes, Tom Bain is aware.

Contact Information for Deb Bennett: 226-346-6000

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