Patrick Porzuczek told a packed house at the Minden Community Centre April 25 he’d never organized anything like the ‘Save Minden Ontario Emergency Room’ Facebook group.

However, he said since moving to the town seven years ago, he’d found a community and extended family. And that included the Minden emergency room after having twice had his abnormal heart beat return to a normal rhythm.

“My wife got in the car with our three kids and drove me to the ER while I was in an arrhythmia so I could be shocked. There’s many people in this room that know of, or have had, emergency services at the Minden ER. There’s many heart attack patients, cancer patients, patients that had an accident at home that used these vital services and saved our lives,” he said. He added his six-year-old daughter also received excellent care when she had a recent heart issue.

He urged the crowd, that numbered in the hundreds, to look around the room and asked, “if we didn’t have that emergency department in Minden, would that person sitting beside you be here today?”

The community came together to share stories of their life-saving interactions with Minden emerge, sign a petition, donate money, collect signs, and begin organizing next steps in their fight to keep the Minden ER open.

I want to create awareness. I want to get these signs on lawns. I want to get the conversation started. I want all of you to go out there and write your letters to [HHHS CEO and president] Carolyn Plummer,”

Organizers vow to fight HHHS closure decision

Porzuczek said. “Carolyn, we need you to come to Minden, face us face-to-face, tell us your plan. Tell us what you’re doing and why and how you’re going to handle it. We want to know how you made this decision, on all our behalf, without consulting any one of us.”

He added they’d like answers as to anticipated wait times at Haliburton emerge, for 911, or if there is a major car accident on Hwy. 35, “how they will get immediate care having to drive 25 minutes or more to Minden?”

He said Plummer and the hospital board had made a decision, “that is going to affect us here in Minden for the rest of our lives. We cannot let this hospital close. Let’s fix it. Not close it.”

He vowed his group would do whatever it takes to save the Minden ER. Porzuczek plans to drive the petitions to Queen’s Park this week.

Mayor Bob Carter said they “knew the decision was wrong” and he’s concerned about the timing, with the closure coming June 1, at the beginning of a busy County summer. He added it’s one of the oldest populations in Ontario.

“As you get older, you need those hospital services, so this decision in inexplicable.”

He said they had to continue the momentum in the hopes of pausing the decision. He noted Plummer and board chair David O’Brien will be addressing Minden council today (April 27).

Members of the crowd talked about the impact of COVID vaccine mandates on health care workers leaving their professions, the province mismanaging health care and allowing agency nurses and a move to privatization, while others said Haliburton’s ER will be greatly impacted and that Minden serves people living south of the town.

Richard Bradley said Minden has successfully fought daycare and Service Ontario planned closures.

“It sounds like a Moses thing here. We have done floods…we have survived all of those things …”

Former HHHS health care worker Christina Allore advised the group as to what to focus on.

“We are entitled as Canadians to accessible and safe care. Those are the two key points that you have to press because moving up to there [Haliburton] is not accessible and it is not safe.”

Go to Save Minden Ontario Emergency Room on Facebook for more information on the group.