Watermain break the least of the worries at STEGH?


It’s been a trying seven days for the administration at St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital.

A week ago Friday, the hospital was the victim of a watermain break that forced a shutdown of water to the west wing of the facility, which includes the emergency department.

Hospital spokeswoman Cathy Fox alerted the Times-Journal to the situation shortly after the break was discovered.

What she did not inform the media about was the issuance of a boil water advisory later in the day.

To be fair, the order was issued Friday evening, but as of this past Monday morning, not a peep from her office on the advisory issued by Elgin St. Thomas Public Health.

By that time, this corner was in possession of a copy of the order and reporter Nick Lypaczewski was able to pursue the matter with Fox.

Again, to be fair to STEGH, the health unit did not post the advisory on its website, as would be expected.

Then, on Wednesday, St. Thomas firefighters were called to the hospital to mop up after a hazardous material spill in the main floor lab.

While relatively minor in nature, not a peep from the PR department.

In a web only item posted after the watermain break, this corner suggested the water disruption is not the only headache hospital administration is currently dealing with.

City Scope is investigating whether there are possible equipment problems in the operating room, specifically with what is known as a C-arm that is reportedly over 12 years old.

And, in what may be an ongoing situation, the autoclaves used for sterilizing operating room equipment apparently are not fully functional and, as a result, procedures may have been cancelled in the past and equipment to be sterilized was sent to Tillsonburg via taxi.

The sterilizers were again impacted last Friday due to the watermain break and there are no backups.

Fox posted the following comments on line this week.

“No surgical procedures were cancelled at St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital on Friday July 22 as suggested above. Due to the water main break, we experienced reduced water pressure which meant we could not use our sterilizer.

“Our backup plan when our own sterilizing equipment is not available, is to transport (not by taxi) surgical equipment to Tillsonburg. This plan was initiated and executed immediately, and therefore no surgeries were cancelled.

“Our priority is to deliver excellent patient care and we have plans in place to ensure minimal disruption to patient care when such situations arise.

“The C-arm is an imaging device used in the operating room. A new C-Arm was purchased in 2007 thanks to generous donations from our community. ”

Fox was not available for comment as she was away from the office Thursday and will not return until Tuesday.

We will contact her at that time for clarification on possible equipment problems in the hospital OR.


Quite the letter to the editor this past Wednesday in which Bill Sandison takes Mayor Heather Jackson-Chapman to task for her testy tweets.

Her candid observations on the demeanor of Ald. Lori Baldwin-Sands following the new consolidated courthouse announcement June 30 and a response to a shot across the bow of council from Downtown Development Board chairman Dan Muscat prompted Sandison to claim the mayor “has lowered the bar when it comes to the conduct of someone holding her office.”

He continues, “It’s hard to imagine the behaviour of the office could be worse than the previous regime.”

Sandison refers to the mayor’s actions as a display of poor judgment and “an almost childlike spitefulness.”

Cheer up Heather.

It wasn’t that long ago the Times-Journal was the target of inflammatory tweets from Sandison.

Now, those were truly spiteful.


Dave Bryans, president of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association, is no strange to this corner.

He has contributed on several occasions in relation to the sale of contraband tobacco and the targetting of convenience stores for selling tobacco to underage purchasers employed by the health unit.

Well, Bryans is now leading the charge to allow beer and wine to be sold in convenience stores across the province.

His organization has launched a Facebook campaign at http://www.freeourbeer.ca asking voters to push for additional access to beer and wine in convenience stores.

How do City Scope readers feel about such a convenience and should it be an election issue?

Check in with your comments at mccallum@stthomastimesjournal.com.


“If you have a problem with the DDB (Downtown Development Board) or another member of council, put away your bumbleberry and work with them to resolve it.”

In a letter to the Times-Journal, reader Bill Sandison rips into Mayor Heather Jackson-Chapman “for posting inflammatory remarks” on Twitter directed at Ald. Lori Baldwin-Sands and the DDB.

City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to: mccallum@stthomastimesjournal.com.

One thought on “Watermain break the least of the worries at STEGH?

    As I have done a number of times, I invite you to call me if you have an issue with me or my position on certain matters.

    I gather you are referring to my criticism (hardly spiteful) last year of the Times-Journal on selective reporting.

    I wrote a letter to the editor Dec. 22nd, 2010 (below) about violence against women that you chose not to publish.

    According to Statistics Canada, one in three Canadian women are victims of assault by a spouse or partner. Overshadowing these numbers are the many cases of abuse that go unreported.
    On December 6th the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women was recognized. It was established in 1991 by Canadian Parliament to draw focus to the daily violence against women and girls and to encourage communities to take concrete actions to eliminate all forms of violence.
    Silence in a community in unacceptable and it further fosters the abhorrent continuance of the behaviour. We must raise awareness each and every time it occurs in order to put an end to it.
    On November 14th, three weeks prior to Violence Against Women Day, a St. Thomas alderman was charged with harassment and assault. The Times-Journal has failed to report on this criminal charge of harassment and assault yet it consistently reports about lesser offences like public intoxication.
    By failing to report, it calls into question the integrity of the newspaper. Surely St. Thomas Times-Journal does not condone violence against women, so one must ask why they have not reported on this act of violence.
    As reported by Lee Lakeman in the Canadian Women Studies, “No man on his own, that is without the collusion of others, gets into a position to successfully attack women and get away with it. Men use their role in the family, their professional credentials, or the fact that society will believe them over a woman. Men certainly use the unlikeliness of their being charged or convicted.”
    If we are to end violence against women, we all have a duty to do something. The St. Thomas Times-Journal could do its part by reporting it when it happens.”

    I also shared my thoughts on social media. We should all speak out, speak often and speak loudly for those who cannot speak for themselves.

    It is disturbing to me when the media falls silent on violence against women and children. Apparently you do not agree. That said the St. Thomas Elgin Weekly News saw fit to report the charges of harassment and assault.

    I gather you endorse the Mayor’s behaviour and while I do not follow her on Twitter, others do. A government employee in a neighbouring community contacted me regarding the backbiting. As I stated in the title of my letter which you published but modified, I think it is “Conduct Unbecoming a Mayor”. Apparently you think otherwise.

    On the topic of spitefulness, you may want to reflect upon your own persistent barbs at Aldermen Mark Cosens, Jeff Kohler and Lori Baldwin Sands. If any of them were charged with harassment and assault, I suspect you would not be silent on the subject.

    A half-truth is the most cowardly of lies. ~ Mark Twain


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