A local group is calling on Haliburton Highlands Health Services (HHHS) for a public meeting about the Minden ER’s closure.
Save Minden ER, the group behind two petitions to “save” the Minden Hospital’s emergency department, wants HHHS’ administration to meet with local stakeholders. According to the group’s founder, Patrick Porzuczek, that includes representatives of local EMS, fire services, elected officials, and members of the public.
“The goal of the meeting would be for [HHHS] to actually come out and show us their plan. Show us how they plan to handle the calls for EMS, making it accessible for all Minden residents and those outside the Minden area,” says Porzuczek. “Because right now, it seems like they don’t have a plan, [and] they’re trying to buy time to make a plan. But this plan should have already been in place before they even had a chance of making this announcement.”
Specifically, Porzuczek says he wants to ask the administration whether they can guarantee enough doctors and nurses after the quickly approaching June 1 transition date to cover shifts without burning out.
“We want this meeting now,” he says. “We don’t want it in a week or two weeks. We want to know where they’re at right now and see their strategic plan, and their planning that they’ve put in place to cover everything.”
By the time of writing, the online petition has garnered more than 8,500 signatures. Save Minden ER’s Richard Bradley says the physical petitions number thousands more and have been taken to Queen’s Park as well as mailed to every MPP in Ontario.
“Now we have more signed petitions than people who actually voted in the municipal election,” says Bradley. “Maybe the election wasn’t very inspiring, but this has inspired the community to stand up.”
Bradley says he believes local officials were “just as blindsided” as the rest of the community, and that they’re doing everything they can both outwardly and behind the scenes to address it.
Bradley adds that he’s looking into filing for a legal injunction to temporarily block the closure, and his wife has filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, on grounds of discrimination for age, disability, and access to services. “Yes, we’re a small town. It does not mean we should not have the right, like everybody else, to quality and accessible healthcare. Indeed, it is part of the Human Rights Code,” he says.
According to Porzuczek, the group also plans to “fill Queen’s Park with as many people as we can” at a future date, to show the provincial government and Ministry of Health that “this is against the interest of the public.”