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West Lincoln Memorial Hospital is key to overall regional health care: Foundation chair

Posted on Wednesday, January 13th, 2021 |

by Luke Edwards
Grimsby Lincoln News

The West Lincoln Memorial Hospital (WLMH) Foundation chair is calling on the region to provide what he believes is its fair share of local financing.

Kevin Antonides said the $14 million of regional dollars requested to fund a new hospital in Grimsby is a sound investment, and one that will benefit the overall health of the entire Niagara community. At this Thursday’s regional budget review, committee meeting staff will be presenting a policy that will guide future contributions to hospital projects, including Grimsby’s.

“We really feel that the Region has to step up,” he said.

Hospital rebuilds, like the one promised to the West Niagara community, are mostly funded by the provincial government. However, local communities must provide some of the capital, usually around 30 per cent of the entire cost. For WLMH, that will come out to about $60 million.

Of that local share, the towns of Grimsby and Lincoln, as well as the township of West Lincoln have agreed to provide $26 million. The foundation has committed to $20 million, about half of which has already been raised. That leaves a request to the Region to provide a one-time, $14 million payment.

Though Antonides remains hopeful they’ll receive that full amount, or at least a number very close to it, he’s concerned the new proposed policy could shave that regional portion down significantly. In recent discussions Antonides said the number floating around was $12.6 million, which was something they could live with.

“Now it seems it’s going lower and lower,” he said.

The policy uses a scoring matrix to help determine regional funding for hospitals. Lincoln regional councillor Rob Foster previously asked for the Region to develop policy to make hospital funding fair across the board and this matrix is what staff came back with. He said Thursday's meeting will hopefully see the committee agree to a funding formula, decide how the Region will pay for these requests, and with any luck determine what the WLMH share will be.

He acknowledged $14 million was unlikely, but also said he believes the rest of regional council understands the importance of the Grimsby hospital.

"I'm hoping to get something close," he said, adding he'll be making the case alongside other West Niagara politicians.

“It (WLMH) is an important hospital to the (West Niagara) community, but it also supports a healthy Niagara region as a whole,” said Antonides.

Antonides pointed out WLMH is well known for its maternity ward, and many people from elsewhere in Niagara choose to have their babies born in Grimsby.

Any shortfall from what was requested from the Region will have to be made up for with fundraising. The Foundation is set to launch a fundraising campaign, aptly dubbed the 'Take It to the Finish' campaign, as the community has already raised millions of dollars for a new hospital that was first promised years ago.

According to a report posted on the region’s website, “the final staff report on both the policy and the recommendation for funding will be provided prior to” the budget review committee meeting.


Two-tier Region funding proposal blindsides WLMH fundraisers

Posted on Wednesday, January 13th, 2021 |

By Mike Williscraft


Everything West Lincoln Memorial Hospital’s rebuild fundraising team thought they knew changed with an email Monday.

Ron Tripp, Niagara Region’s acting chief administrative officer, informed the group only 18 per cent of the local capital cost share for WLMH’s rebuild cost would come as a contribution.

Since the process started, local officials had been basing projections on the same 21 per cent support received by Niagara Health System’s St. Catharines site on Fourth Avenue.

To say the decision does not sit well with local officials would be an understatement.

“The piece that was not finalized until today is the recommended maximum Region share which is 18 per cent of the total local share,” Tripp informed local officials by email on Monday evening.

WLMH’s rebuild is currently budgeted at $200 million with $60 million of that required as the local share. The Fourth Avenue facility received $21 million of its initially projected $100 million local share, said Kurt Whitnell, co-chair of the rebuild fundraising campaign.

The difference between the 21 and 18 per cent now suggested by Tripp for WLMH is $1.8 million.

“We’ve moved mountains in the past two years. Never in my lifetime did I imagine that our local regional staff would stick it to us?” said Tony Joosse, co-chair of the Save WLMH  Action Committee.

Whitnell, said the constantly shifting goalposts are not appreciated.

“The process has gone from, ‘we’re looking forward to an equitable

funding for WLMH of $12.6 million at 21 per cent’ to ‘following extensive discussions with Niagara Region CAO Ron Tripp we are very disappointed to learn that they are proposing maximum support of $10.8 million or 18 per cent of our $60 million local share,” said Whitnell.

“This is not fair or equitable given the new St. Catharines hospital received 21 per cent of its local share from the Region. West Niagara is not being treated the same as other municipalities in the Region.”

The crux of the issue, said WLMH fundraising campaign chair Andrew Smith surrounds exactly what the Region’s input to St. Catharines was – $21 million or $25 million, and the actual funds which went into that site – $101.9 million or $116.9 million as Tripp contends.

For Smith, he said numbers can be cajoled any which way. He wants straight information applied.

“We’ve spent hundreds of hours on this file and the rules have changed several times,” said Smith.

For Joosse, if 18 per cent is the starting point, he is concerned regional officials could further reduce its support from there.

“With all the current challenges with health care and Niagara West leading the Region in growth, how and why are regional staff short-changing us?” Joosse asked rhetorically.

“What if they apply the questionable matrix to discount this amount further? Do we score 80 per cent, $8.64 million, or  90 per cent, $9.72 million.”

Joosse noted governments almost always work from precedents.

“There is a reason things get done the way they do. Niagara Region is always looking at other municipalities when the provincial or federal government hand out money,” said Joosse.

“They just want to be treated the same as other municipalities. That is the same for us here. We just want our fair share just as the Region would.”

The matter is to be formally presented to Niagara Region’s committee of the whole budget meeting on Thursday (today).

The recommendation will then go to full council on Jan. 21.

“I just want fairness for Niagara West. We deserve the 21 per cent. All we asked for is to be treated on the same level as St. Catharines. It is time for Niagara Region to step up,” said Grimsby Mayor Jeff Jordan.



The First WLMH Star is Born of 2021

Posted on Tuesday, January 5th, 2021 |

Congratulations to Connie and Mark, and big brother Caleb, of Grimsby, on the birth of Colton Jake, WLMH's New Years Baby.  

Colton was born on January 5, 2021 at 10:07 am, weighing 7lbs 9oz.  Dr. Nwebube welcomed Colton into the world. 

Mark describes the experience at WLMH as "a different comfort level, that is very soothing.  You feel like you are with family."

On behalf of the WLMH Foundation, Colton was presented with a gift basket that included a certificate to the A Star is Born Wall in the Maternal and Newborn Care Department.  For more information about the A Star is Born program, click here


Sparkle and Shine for West Lincoln Memorial Hospital

Posted on Monday, December 14th, 2020 |

A little extra sparkle and shine for West Lincoln Memorial Hospital is going on this year throughout West Niagara.  Have you noticed that too?
The WLMH Foundation’s annual Trees of Healthy Wishes campaign will be the best year ever with the community’s help.  Your donation will light up trees and angels in Grimsby, Lincoln and West Lincoln.   During the week of Christmas, your wishes from donors will be conveyed in the local paper. 
Donations are very much needed to support West Lincoln Memorial Hospital (WLMH) by purchasing new and/or replacement equipment such as a CT Scanner for Diagnostics.  The Foundation also reports that funds received will be used to acquire equipment which will be utilized in performing surgeries in the current and future operating suites.
Planning is well underway for a new hospital. The communities served by the hospital are responsible for the “local share” financing; 10% of the total construction cost, as well as, 100% of the cost for new equipment, furniture, fixtures and parking lot infrastructure.  The local share of financing for a new WLMH is approximately $60M. 
The WLMH Foundation has some great news to share with the community! Their Campaign Committee is growing and together they are pleased to serve this community with their time and talents.  Andrew Smith is leading the campaign in the role of Campaign Chair.  Andrew reported that Kurt Whitnell joined the team as Vice Chair and a number of volunteers continue to be recruited to help support the fundraising goal of $60 million.
Kevin Antonides, Chair of WLMH Foundation Governing Board stated, “It is great to see how the timeline towards construction is moving forward at such a fast pace.  The enthusiasm of the campaign team is contagious and we are thankful for their volunteerism. We are grateful to the many supporters of WLMH Foundation who have continued to help equip the programs and services at our hospital over the past 39 years since the Foundation began.”

Trees of Healthy Wishes

Posted on Friday, November 27th, 2020 |

In the spirit of goodwill and peace you are invited to help us light up the Trees of Healthy Wishes in Grimsby, Lincoln and West Lincoln.

When a donation is made a holiday greeting may be published in the special section of the local newspaper and a light or an angel (with the donation of $1,000 or more) is illuminated.  Donations can be made by mail, telephone or by clicking here.

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