Closure of inpatient care unit at SBGHC’s Durham Hospital sparks community outrage

For immediate release
May 3, 2024

DURHAM, ON – In a move that has raised serious concerns about the future of rural health care and ignited widespread criticism from local residents, healthcare professionals and advocacy groups, South Bruce Grey Health Centre (SBGHC) has announced the decision to transfer its Durham Site inpatient care unit to their Walkerton and Kincardine sites.

“First they cut Durham Hospital’s emergency department hours, and now they’re getting rid of inpatient care, all without consulting the community or their front line health care workers,” said JP Hornick, President of OPSEU/SEFPO. “This disregard for the needs of Durham residents, as well as the input and expertise of our members undermines the trust between the hospital, their employees, and the community.”

Moving inpatient care to SBGHC’s Walkerton and Kincardine sites will mean that many Durham Hospital RPNs, food services and housekeeping staff represented by OPSEU/SEFPO Local 275 will face the prospect of relocating outside their community or commuting long distances to work, exacerbating an already precarious staffing situation.

“Many of our nursing staff members feel they need to look for jobs elsewhere,” said Trish Schaefer, OPSEU/SEFPO Local 275 President. “Morale is at an all-time low. We’re already short-staffed because management has created a toxic workplace where front line staff feel unappreciated, undermined, and undervalued. The pay is lower than industry standard, and we’ve been working without a contract since 2021. It’s going to be hard to maintain adequate levels of care for our patients when we lose even more staff.”

Local residents are demanding accountability for this further erosion of rural health care in their community, where access to quality medical services is already limited. Relocating the Durham inpatient care unit to other towns will make it much harder for families to care for their loved ones away from their community.

Two actions are being planned by local advocacy groups to demand that SBGHC reverse their decision and prioritize the well-being of the community, which OPSEU/SEFPO members also plan to join:

  • On May 7th at 7 pm, there will be a Save Our Hospital Rally organized by Save the Durham Hospital group at the Durham Community Centre Hall.
  • On May 11th at 9 am, the Grey Bruce Health Coalition will hold a Rally to Save Healthcare at Owen Sound City Hall.

“Our message for South Bruce Grey Health Centre is clear,” said Hornick. “Listen to community residents and your health care employees, and reverse the cuts to Durham Hospital services now.”

For more information:

Contact OPSEU/SEFPO Communications: