UXBRIDGE: The future of Uxbridge Cottage Hospital got a healthy diagnosis earlier this week, when plans were unveiled to transform the site into a local health hub.
As Markham-Stouffville Hospital President and CEO JoAnne Marr explained to councillors at their Monday, Nov. 16 meeting, the concept of a health hub will be explored for the site, beginning later this year.
“The hospital is near and dear to many; we know that,” Ms. Marr explained. “A local health hub would bring together a number of health, social and community services.”
She added that the concept of a health hub has helped to transform a number of rural community hospitals across the province, such as in Campbellford, Hanover and Sioux Lookout to ensure they remain vibrant active and centres for the community. The consultation process is expected to begin later this year, with public input on what types of services are most desired by local residents from a health hub.
“We want to make sure that we have our facts straight, and we want to know what you want to see and what is most valuable to the community,” added Ms. Marr.
It was also noted by Ms. Marr that the process of converting to a local health hub can take as long as ten years, and warned that in the hospital’s current state, an infusion of capital may be needed beyond the next five years, with the nearly 60-year-old hospital beginning to show its age.
Cottage Hospital is currently operating with 20 beds, but Ms. Marr stated that it has been proposed in the 2016 budget to increase the allotment at the hospital to its full capacity of 25 beds “to alleviate some pressures in the community.”
The concept of a local health hub was enthusiastically endorsed by councillors.
“The hospital has served this community very well and for that to continue, we need to rise to the challenge explained here today,” commented Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor.
Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger expressed concern over a possible lack of beds. However, Ms. Marr was confident that they would remain as the hospital underwent its transformation into a local health hub.
“It contains them now, so it would likely contain them in the future. I can’t see any reason why they wouldn’t be maintained, or even expanded,” replied Ms. Marr.
Mayor O’Connor added the suggestion of working with Durham Region to explore social services and long-term care partnership opportunities, noting that the nearest social services office is located in Port Perry.