Hospital has offered to meet with city this fall: Despatie

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Jeannette Despatie, CEO Cornwall Community Hospital.

CORNWALL, Ontario - The head of the Cornwall Community Hospital, who is also a member of the board of a laboratory association that oversees services in eastern Ontario, said Tuesday the health-care facility has offered to sit down with city council this fall.

Jeanette Despatie said Tuesday she was aware of city council's move to consider a court injunction against a plan to consolidate laboratory services at the hospital.

Despatie is listed as a member of the board of directors for the Eastern Ontario Regional Laboratory Association (EORLA), which includes 11 other CEOs and leaders from different health-care institutions like CHEO, the Ottawa Hospital and the Montford Hospital.

The EORLA has managed laboratory services at the hospital since April 2012, but now the department is being consolidated with others and centralized in Ottawa - eliminating four positions in Cornwall and creating concern from critics who say it will take too long for cancer screening results to arrive.

"My membership on the EORLA board has not influenced the decision regarding pathology services at the Cornwall EORLA lab," Despatie said. "It is important to note that all laboratory services were integrated into EORLA in 2012.  The concept of an integrated regional laboratory for eastern Ontario dates back to the mid 1990’s."

Despatie said in correspondence with city hall by hospital board chair Michael Turcotte, an offer was made to meet with councillors months from now.

"In our letter on May 8, 2014 to mayor and council, the board chair indicated that 'We look forward to sharing and celebrating the completion of the capital redevelopment project with you this fall and outlining all the excellent health care programs and services offered at Cornwall Community Hospital,'" said Despatie. "The board indicated that they felt that the timing would be more appropriate with the completion of the final phase of the project and the consolidation of all staff and services."

But city council wants to talk now.

Monday night it tasked administrators with discussing the feasibility of seeking a court injunction with city lawyers.

The city is complaining that it has forked over millions in donations to the hospital, and expects answers to its questions sooner rather than later.

Organizations: Eastern Ontario Regional Laboratory Association, Cornwall Community Hospital, Ottawa Hospital Montford Hospital

Geographic location: CORNWALL, Ontario, Ottawa

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