Three teenagers who were stabbed at a sweet 16 birthday party in Clinton, Ont. late last month were driven to the local hospital, only to find out the emergency department (ED) was closed.
Following a triple stabbing at a house party on Raglan Street in Clinton on July 30, a citizen who was driving took the wounded teenagers less than 2 kilometres to Clinton Public Hospital (CPH) only to find out the ED closes at 6 p.m.
OPP confirmed the driver and victims immediately made the 20 kilometre trek to Goderich where the three teens — aged 15, 16 and 17 — were assessed.
Two of the victims were held at Alexandra Marine and General Hospital, while the third victim with a much more serious puncture wound was transported to London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) in London.
“We are playing Russian roulette here, sooner or later something is going to happen here and it’s going to cost someone their life and it came close this time,” explained Jim Ginn, mayor of Central Huron.
He added, “That’s why we need as many emergency rooms as possible because we have big distances to other hospitals in other municipalities. We are somewhat fortunate in Clinton that Goderich and Seaforth aren’t too far away.”
Central Huron Mayor Jim Ginn says his community is playing Russian roulette as he believes eventually someone will die due to the closure of the emergency department in his hometown of Clinton, Ont. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)
For those that do arrive at the CPH after hours, they can either use the phone available inside the ED which patients can call 9-1-1 and paramedics will re-route to the nearest available ED.
There is also signage with a list of the closest 24-hour EDs including addresses and distance.
“This is going to lead to a tragedy beyond anything we can comprehend,” said Peter Bergmanis of the Ontario Health Coalition. “While this is a fortunate story in the end, that all these gentlemen actually received care and it was timely enough for them to go to another hospital, I can only imagine a more serious trauma and there is no other options.”
Bergmanis said there are a multitude of reasons why these EDs are closed.
He said nursing staff collapsed during the COVID-19 pandemic and have never recovered. He added that they are still fighting the 11 per cent wage hike and they are still looking for primary care in those areas.
Inside the front door of the emergency department in Clinton, Ont. there is a phone and intercom for use after the hours of 6 p.m. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)
“We’re looking at 158 ER closures, predominantly all in rural Ontario because they are a decade behind all these hospitals being underfunded,” said Bergmanis. “These communities built their hospitals over generations. We are begging the Ford government to get off those $22 billion that they are sitting on and fund these hospitals. They need to automatically flood the resources into these rural communities.”
CTV News London spoke with Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson Wednesday, as the drama unfolded in her riding. She said the Huron-Perth hospital Alliance (HPHA) is responsible for the administration of hospitals in Clinton, Seaforth, Stratford and St. Marys.
“I know that the Huron-Perth Hospital Alliance, the Huron Health Services, and the Listowel and Wingham Health Care Alliance, they are all working together on a regional effort to make sure services are available to people when they need them,” said Thompson.
CTV News London asked Thompson if it would take a death to get these rural EDs back to being open 24 hours.
A sign at the city limits of Clinton, Ont. shows Goderich as an 18 kilometre drive. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)“I know that our professional health care providers are doing everything they can to ensure whether you live in small town Ontario or an urban centre, that everyone has access to quality care,” Thompson said in response. “I really believe in the management of our hospital alliances and their commitment to making sure the best services are available when they are needed.”
Two of the teens have since been released from hospital in Goderich, while the third victim remained in LHSC as of Tuesday evening.
The teen who hosted the party is thankful her friends will all survive.
“My cousin had taken them to the hospital, so I’m grateful they got there in time,” said the 15 year old who wished not to be identified. “But it was sad to hear the Clinton Hospital was closed and they had to drive all the way to Goderich.”