| Aug 04, 2011

After hearing two presentations concerning the need to keep the Denbigh ambulance service, Lennox and Addington County deferred a proposal to begin the process of finding a location for a new base in the Northbrook/Cloyne vicinity.

The Northbrook base, which is located in a rental property, must be vacated within two years, and in a report to Council, County Emergency Services staff recommended “engaging the services of an architect to assist staff and council in determining the land requirements”, and at the same time make landowners with suitable properties located between Northbrook and Cloyne aware that the County is looking to buy property.

“Isn’t this is a little premature, given that the Denbigh base is not yet decided?” asked Bill Cox, a member of L&A County Council from Addington Highlands. A motion to defer consideration of the staff report was accepted and the matter will return at the September 14 county meeting in Napanee.

Janice Powell, Executive Director of the Lakelands Family Health Team, which is based in Northbrook and operates a satellite clinic in Denbigh, made the first presentation.

She started by saying: “The Denbigh ambulance was started in 1982 by the province because it was necessary. The need has not gone away.”

She then took exception to a claim that was made in a consultant’s report, which was received by the County in June. The report, by the IBI group, recommended shutting the Denbigh base and opening a new base in Loyalist Township.

The report is an update of a report from 2008, and claims that the addition of the Family Health Team to Addington Highlands is an improvement in service that will alleviate the impact of the closing the ambulance base.

“The Lakelands Family Health Team is a family practice which focuses on chronic care. Neither the main site nor the satellite in Denbigh offer emergency clinics,” she said. “It is somewhat deceiving that the IBI group cites Lakelands in the context of an emergency services report … we request that all references to Lakelands be removed from the report.”

She added that if the Denbigh base is removed, “Ambulance response times will be greater than 30 minutes, 80 per cent of the time. The survival of patients rostered to the Family Health Team hangs in the balance.”

In her presentation, Vennachar resident Rosemary O’Connor said, “I find it strangely curious that a consultant who failed to consult the stakeholders has recommended that an ambulance base be closed. The very thought of closure leaves me filled with dread.”

She went on to describe how her husband Barney developed post-stroke seizure syndrome in 1998, and ended up requiring ambulance calls on several occasions for transport to Victoria Hospital in Renfrew.

“The first time I called he was in very bad shape. The response time from Denbigh was very good, but it was touch and go when we got to the hospital. The second time was good also, but on the third call the ambulance came from Northbrook and it took a long time. If that first ambulance had come 30 minutes later than it did, he might well have died in the ambulance. Fifteen years later Barney is still here with us, able to live at home and enjoy a reasonably good quality of life.”

Before moving forward with any planning for a new base in Northbrook, Emergency Services have been requested to prepare a response to the presentations by Janice Powell and Rosemary O’Connor.


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