Loss cannot be overstated

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HHHS’ decision to close the Minden ER has stirred up a hornet’s nest, especially in Minden Hills, which will be most impacted by the move to consolidate ERs and acute care in Haliburton.

We feel for the residents of Minden and surrounding areas. Having an ER that is close to where you live, work, and play brings a sense of comfort to all of us.

It will be particularly hard for those who live in the south and western parts of the township. The folks in Moore Falls and west of Carnarvon, for example, are going to be worried about the extra travelling time to Haliburton, or if their ambulance is even going to take them to Haliburton now, as opposed to Lindsay or Bracebridge or elsewhere.

Social media has been flooded with very personal stories about how the Minden ER has saved lives over the years.

The loss cannot be overstated.

However, it should not come as a complete shock to people. HHHS has been threatening possible temporary ER closures for 18 months. Remember those check-stop-go warnings?

And while some in the community say there has been zero consultation, HHHS has been pretty transparent for some time that staffing shortages are having a very real impact on the viability of keeping two ERs open.

That said, there is a big difference from telling the community there may be temporary ER closures and announcing a permanent closure. A lot of people only found out last week – including politicians, and employees of HHHS.

While hindsight is always 20:20, HHHS should have anticipated the backlash over its decision. Perhaps a public meeting or town hall in advance of such a major closure would have been prudent. At least then, the public could have had its say. It hasn’t and that is why Facebook groups are popping up, as well as GoFundMe campaigns and petitions. Perhaps all of this reaction still would have happened – even with a public meeting or town hall – but we’ll never know.

We would ask hospital management and the board, however, to still hold a public meeting or town hall. The public wants questions answered. The answers may not mollify them, but at least they will feel they have been involved somehow. There will be an iota of transparency.

Some of us also wish we could turn the clock back. What would the situation be like today if the County politicians of the day had agreed to build just one hospital more geographically centered in the Highlands? Perhaps we would not be going through this today. Our parochialism is sometimes a gift, but often an impediment. It’s no different than Minden Hills going it alone on a new arena and recreation centre, instead of working with the entire County to build a larger facility that maybe could have housed an indoor swimming pool. We’ll never know because Minden was looking after Minden.

At the end of the day, all we can do is deal with what we are facing today.

Will having one hospital improve health care in the Highlands? Time will tell. Will we be able to attract more doctors and nurses and get more diagnostic imaging, such as a CT scanner? Time will tell.

One thing that isn’t productive is continuing to be parochial and suggesting downright stupid reactions such as withdrawing funding from the Haliburton Highlands Health Services Foundation in protest of the Minden emerge closure. That mentality just hurts us all.

We do, however, look forward to HHHS coming up with some innovative solutions for the dearth left by the closure of the Minden emerge, whether it is a walk-in clinic, or something such as the Dorset Health Hub’s nurse practitioner-led model.

A positive announcement in that regard would go a long way to making Mindenites feel a little bit better about this decision.