Door not completely closed on CCH sleep lab

(Newswatch Group/File)

CORNWALL – While the Cornwall Community Hospital sleep lab has been “permanently suspended,” the CEO is not about to say the laboratory for sleep disorders is dead.

“We are not currently looking to re-open the lab but it is of course difficult to say that at this time,” CEO Jeanette Despatie wrote in an email to Cornwall Newswatch. “We are hoping that good access to this service will be available for patients.”

The hospital announced Wednesday afternoon the sleep lab, which diagnoses sleep disorders like apnea and insomnia, would cease operations after the two physicians overseeing the lab resigned their hospital privileges.

The hospital said it tried unsuccessfully to recruit replacements.

When asked why it used the term “permanently suspended” and not closed, Despatie said it was used to “align with previous communication to staff, physicians and patients where we had to “temporarily suspend” the service.”

When asked if the McConnell Avenue lab would be mothballed for future use or dismantled, Despatie said she couldn’t answer that question at this time.

The hospital saw around 600 patients a year on average for the three-bed lab. They will now being referred to other services, including those at the Winchester District Memorial Hospital.

The Winchester sleep lab is contracted out to a third party provider, unlike Cornwall’s which was staffed with doctors with hospital privileges. CCH says it doesn’t have the money to hire a third-party provider.

Wait times range from two weeks to eight months. At CCH, the wait times were as long as a year, the hospital said.

The service suspension affects two full-time and three part-time staff.

Despatie said the employees “have rights and entitlements under a Collective Agreement and the parties are currently working through this process to determine if a layoff is necessary.”

In some cases, unionized employees with seniority have bumping rights to take over another position from a person with lower seniority.