Personal stories flooding in as campaign to get Whitby hospital project going hits halfway mark

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Published March 7, 2024 at 12:58 pm

Halfway through an eight-week public call-to-action campaign to pressure the provincial government to commit funds to a new hospital in Durham, thousands of people have signed the Town of Whitby’s letter or shared a personal story about why a new hospital matters to them.

The campaign launched Feb. 7, more than two years after a site in Whitby near Lakeridge Road and Highway 407 was chosen by Lakeridge Health for Durham Region’s next acute care hospital.

Two weeks later Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared said the hospital will be in Whitby (after many months of dithering while being pressured to locate the facility in neighbouring Pickering) but has yet to commit the start-up funds to get the much-needed project started.

Ford made the comments to a local radio station and Whitby Mayor Elizabeth Roy thanked Ford for finally declaring the Whitby site was the ideal location. “Now,” she said in a message to the Premier, “we need action.”

“A hospital in Whitby is not guaranteed until the Province completes the land disposition process and approves a $3 million planning grant for Lakeridge Health.”

The Town of Whitby is continuing to invest in a new hospital: the Lakeridge Health Foundation was awarded a $25,000 grant from the Town’s Mayor’s Community Development Fund this year, which will be added to the $25,000 awarded last year – and the federal government has also stepped up with the recent announcement of a $3.1 billion health accord with the Province.

“We will be watching the upcoming 2024 provincial budget closely,” Roy said.

It’s long past time to get the project underway, she added, noting that by 2041, Lakeridge Health will need an estimated 1,793 hospital beds – more than double the current count.

“Our residents face overwhelming waits in the emergency department or to be admitted to the hospital. When seconds count, Toronto and Kingston are the only options for Durham residents who need trauma care,” she said. “We need more care closer to home, and we can’t wait any longer.”

Stories are also coming in from the community on the need for a new hospital and Roy shared a couple in a news release issued this week.

“Over the first four weeks, we have seen a phenomenal response from the community,” she said. “I am incredibly grateful to Durham residents for this support, and deeply concerned by some of the stories we’re hearing.”

“My wife, 81…fell face first on the cement floor. We waited five hours for someone to see her, all that time bleeding,” one resident shared. “We had a family member with a broken neck and broken ribs lay in emergency for five days before getting a room at Ajax, said another.

“We hear you Durham,” Roy said. “There are four weeks left in our community advocacy campaign. I encourage all Durham residents to help us keep the momentum going by visiting whitby.ca/NewHospital to sign the call-to-action letter or share a personal story.”

 

The Province of Ontario first recommended a new acute care hospital for Durham Region in 2015 and in January 2022 – following a transparent, two-stage site selection process – Lakeridge Health announced lands in Whitby as the preferred site for a proposed new hospital for Durham Region.

The site selected by Lakeridge Health is located south of Highway 407, west of Highway 412, east of Lake Ridge Road and north of Highway 7/Winchester Road in Whitby – hard on the border with Pickering.

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