Haliburton Highlands Health Services (HHHS) will present to Minden Hills council this week about the closure of the Minden Hospital’s emergency department.
HHHS President and CEO Carolyn Plummer wrote in her request that it would give an opportunity for her and Board Chair David O’Brien to have a “fulsome discussion” about the plans to consolidate emergency services at the Haliburton Hospital.
“Normally with a change of this size, you’d consult all the stakeholders and have much more than six weeks to prepare,” says Minden Hills Mayor Bob Carter of the June 1 transition date. “In this case, no one was consulted. Not the doctors and front line nurses, not EMS, not the elected officials, and certainly not the public.”
Carter notes that EMS is already strained as it stands, and if all available units are tied up in Haliburton, it will fall on the area’s volunteer fire departments to transport emergency patients to the hospital. “Not that they wouldn’t be able to handle that, but they definitely have not had the time to prepare for that possibility,” he says.
Carter joined hundreds of local residents at the Minden Community Centre Tuesday afternoon, signing petitions and calling on HHHS to “save the Minden Hospital.” One such online petition has already garnered more than 4,500 signatures. He says many people voiced their concerns, including longtime local residents who are worried about losing a vital service, and newcomers who moved to Minden specifically to be close to the hospital.
As for HHHS’ presentation to council, Carter says he’s in the process of gathering questions from councillors and the community. “The big one we want to know is how and why this happened,” he says.
Carter says council plans to ask the agency to postpone the transition until at least November 1, to make it through the area’s busiest time of the year. “If you’re inviting people for Christmas dinner, you wouldn’t paint the walls of the house on December 24,” he quips.
He says in the meantime, the best thing people can do is make their voices heard.
“Call and write your MPP, and if you’re a cottager contact your MPP both here and where you’re from,” says Carter. “Let them know that this can’t happen.”
Thursday’s meeting starts at 9:00, and can be viewed live at the township’s YouTube channel.