The new Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA), as a corporation, was born in February 2018 along with the Mission, One Team – Two Sites: Serving Chatham and Rural Kent. The new CKHA represents the integration of three legacy corporations (Public General Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Sydenham District Hospital) who originally formed the Health Alliance as a way to work together. CKHA now operates two sites in Chatham and Wallaceburg and has a mandate to provide access to care for the residents of our community, many of whom live outside of either Chatham or Wallaceburg. As Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”
The commitment to a two-site hospital is foundational for CKHA. It is so important that it is included in the Letters Patent and the new Mission of the organization. The Chatham and Wallaceburg sites are unique; and, it is important that we see them as one team. I think most of us who have played on or worked within a team appreciate that true success comes from working together towards a common goal. We know it when we feel it. I had an experience this summer while on vacation of riding a tandem bike with my husband. This was surprisingly difficult and far more challenging than riding two bikes separately. All of a sudden each of our individual moves impacted on our shared riding experience. We needed to be in constant communication to anticipate stops and turns together. The bike would only stay upright with constant effort from both riders (no coasting for me). We also shared pride in our collective success and had some heartfelt laughs about our challenges. Virtually every family experience on vacation involved some form of teamwork. This reinforced for me how important it is for CKHA to be on that tandem bike together with one set of policies, common standards and people who work and practice at both sites in order for us to be successful going forward.
The new Mission of Chatham-Kent Health Alliance also makes reference to serving the residents of Chatham and Rural Kent. That means challenging ourselves to think about delivering care differently and not only focusing on our two hospital sites. I really enjoy the various “Fests” across Chatham-Kent – from the Threshing Festival and their spectacular fireworks in Thamesville, to recognizing National Indigenous People’s Day at Walpole Island, or enjoying pie at Bleinheim’s Cherry Fest. Chatham-Kent has many celebrations as unique as the people who live here. What if we could harness that community spirit and work together in different ways to enhance access to care across our rural geography? How can we spread our good ideas and partnerships?
I was struck this weekend by our local fields of corn and sunflowers. How far and wide do we send those seeds for others to plant and enjoy? Let’s think about how we can spread the seeds of great ideas to benefit the residents of Chatham and Rural Kent. Together, we can grow a healthier community.