Big public response to hospital debate

People are giving more than their two cents worth to a Saskatoon Health Region panel examining where to build a new children’s hospital in Saskatoon.

"People are passionate about this," said Jim Rhode, chair of both the Saskatoon Regional Health Authority and the health region’s site validation panel.

"We’re pleasantly surprised or pleased with the number. It’s probably a little higher than what we anticipated."

A website designed specifically for the public has been visited 7,500 times since it was established at the end of April. Rhode says each of those visits involved people reading at least some of the information. The number does not include people who came across the home page and then left the site without further exploring it.

Of the people who visited the website, 70 sent an e-mail outlining their thoughts on what should be considered when determining where the Children’s Hospital of Saskatchewan should be built.

"They have to compose an e-mail or letter. We had some submissions that would be relatively short and some that would be up to a couple of pages long," he said.

"They’re saying things like keeping patients safe is first and foremost over any of the other criteria, having certain services close together, adequate parking. If you pick something that is not health-related, (parking) would be the key one that people are interested in."

Rhode wouldn’t provide a more detailed breakdown of people’s responses because he wants the panel members to see all of the submissions first, but he says that information will be made public within the next couple of weeks.

The panel’s 14 members will read every one of the 70 submissions received to date and Rhode hopes more will be received before the deadline on Monday at midnight.

In determining the best location for the children’s hospital, the members are considering four options: Renovate Saskatoon City Hospital, build an addition to City Hospital, build an addition to Royal University Hospital or build at City Hospital for maternal and children’s services and move some adult acute services, such as trauma and sub-specialties, from Royal University to City.

While the submissions have not been grouped according to preferred location, one site is not favoured over the other by the public, says Rhode.

"There’s a fair split. Again, when it comes to the ones that are thought-out, I would say it’s pretty close."

But the public feedback leads Rhode to believe some people have misconceptions about the project.

"I think there’s maybe some misunderstanding of how large this hospital is. Lots of people think we could easily put it into City because it’s a couple of units, but it’s much more than that," said Rhode.

"People believe that it doesn’t require a lot of space. They believe that City Hospital is more empty than perhaps it is or that it’s empty, period, which is not the case. There are also some comments that City Hospital was designed for (a children’s hospital), which is not the case."

The panel will meet behind closed doors for four days next week, starting on Monday. The members will work through 10 criteria, including the impact on patient care, the need for certain health-care services to be located together and the relative capital costs, for each of the four options.

"We won’t necessarily come to consensus. There will be discussion around (the criteria) and each member will have the ability to score on an individual basis," he said.

Rhode hopes to have a report with the panel’s recommendation written and submitted to the children’s hospital steering committee and then the Saskatoon Regional Health Authority within two weeks.

The website with the e-mail address for submissions is 杭州桑拿按摩论坛chssitevalidation.wordpress杭州龙凤.

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