Take a collective deep breath

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It’s been two weeks since Haliburton Highlands Health Services announced it would be closing the Minden emergency room and consolidating ER and acute care services at its Haliburton site.

There has been an outpouring of shock, anger and fear ever since. There has also been a lot of information dispersed.

Might I now suggest we all stop for a minute and take a collective deep breath.

I applaud politicians and grassroots groups for being so passionate in their fight to delay – or reverse the decision. We’d all love for that to somehow happen.

If it cannot, we all want to feel assured that the Haliburton site will be ready for the thousands that will pass through its doors starting June 1. Towards that end, we all anxiously await the plan that HHHS has in place.

And while the various Facebook groups that have sprung up give a voice to the shock, anger and fear, there are many misplaced comments, untruths, and words that are simply fanning the flames.

We urge everyone in the community to think before they post. Is what you are saying helping the situation or hindering it? Do suggestions such as boycotting the Foundation or the Kinmount Fair due to MPP Laurie Scott’s affiliation with Kinmount, really help? Or does soliciting support from the likes of actors Michael J. Fox, or Ryan Reynolds really contribute to the cause?

By all means, we should see if there is any way to have a sober second look at the situation. In the meantime, we also have to consider how we might turn our collective angst into better planning for our health care future. After all, some might say our history did not serve us well in the initial building of two hospitals just 25 kilometres apart. What can we do now to ensure we get the best result for our County going forward?

It’s been suggested to me that mobile ERs are a thing. A quick online search reveals that a mobile ER is a modern, mobile medical unit that provides preliminary treatment for a broad spectrum of illnesses and injuries, potentially life-threatening and requiring immediate medical care. Imagine if something like that existed here and patients could already be en route to a bigger hospital when needed.

In Dorset, the late Herb Hickling launched the health hub, bringing accessible primary and preventable health care closer to citizens of that County. He facilitated community efforts to join with the District of Muskoka and begin discussions with the province, seeking and achieving their support. He built a strong alliance with Lake of Bays and Algonquin Highlands. Could something such as this be done in Minden? Herb worked with community groups, and got monetary and volunteer time donations.

These are just two examples. Maybe it’s time to stop the finger-pointing and start doing what has been, perhaps, lacking to date – look at our health care services and plan for what it will look like in five years, 10 years, 15 years, 20 years and beyond.

Clearly what we have, not only locally, but across Ontario and much of Canada, is not working. Maybe Haliburton County can set an example of how we, and other communities, might do better in future.