Media Conference - Update: Fightback to Save Durham Hospital Ratcheting Up

TORONTO and GREY BRUCE, Ontario, May 22, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- It is a small community, but it has raised its voice for the whole province to hear. Almost a thousand community members have taken to the streets in rallies and vigils to save the hospital in the Town of Durham, in Grey County after the amalgamated hospital corporation announced the imminent closure of all their inpatient beds. The South Grey Bruce Hospital corporation executives claim that the hospital will remain open with an “emergency department” and some diagnostics. However, their plan is to centralize all the remaining inpatient beds to Walkerton and Kincardine, and they have closed the emergency department every day from 5 p.m. until 7 a.m.

Echoing the strategy that was used in Minden to close their hospital last June, the Durham community was given almost no notice. The plan is to close all the inpatient beds by June 3.

The municipality of West Grey has retained a law firm to research their legal options. Now, the fightback is ratcheting up. Community and union leaders will update the media with their response to these plans in a press conference at the Queen’s Park media studio.

When:Thursday, May 23 at 12 p.m. (noon)
Where:Queen’s Park Media Studio, Main Legislative Building, Queen’s Park, Toronto
Who:Mayor Kevin Eccles, West Grey
Executive Director Natalie Mehra, Ontario Health Coalition
President Erin Ariss, RN, Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA)
President JP Hornick, Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/SEFPO)

Advocates have expressed frustration with the Ford government’s laissez-faire attitude towards local public hospitals, which have been built and supported by local communities for 100 years and are often cornerstone public services in communities across Ontario. Unlike previous governments, the current provincial government under the leadership of Doug Ford and Minister of Health Sylvia Jones have told the media that they will not take responsibility for local hospital closures and will not intervene to stop them. Last June the Minden hospital, which had been in existence since 1956, was closed as the government refused to intervene. At the same time, the urgent care centres in Fort Erie and Port Colborne were closed overnight permanently as the province refused to act. In all of these communities, there was little notice and no plan to mitigate the problems of no public transportation (not even taxis at night), overwhelmed nearby hospitals, new risks and costs to patients. In fact, the Ford government has failed to intervene, even after an unprecedented 1,200 vital service closures in small, rural and local hospitals in 2023, including emergency departments, birthing units, outpatient laboratories and an intensive care unit.

For more information: Natalie Mehra, executive director, Ontario Health Coalition 416-230-6402 (cell); Mayor Kevin Eccles (519) 374-3561; Ontario Nurses’ Association,; Katie Arnup, OPSEU/SEFPO communications,