A group of angry Highlands residents travelled to Lindsay May 12 as protests over the closure of the Minden emergency department continue.

Haliburton Highlands Health Services (HHHS) announced last month that it would cease operations at the Minden hospital effective June 1. Community members have spent weeks fighting the decision, launching social media campaigns, starting a petition, and hosting rallies in Haliburton County and at Queen’s Park in Toronto.

The group, led by Minden residents Patrick Porzuczek and Richard Bradley, spent time protesting outside MPP Laurie Scott’s constituency office in Lindsay last week, determined to bring more focus to what they’re calling a “life and death” decision.

“We do not accept this decision. We think this is going to have serious, life-altering ramifications for a lot of people. The community hasn’t been properly consulted, and we don’t think that’s right,” Bradley told The Highlander.

Tina Twyne and her husband, Ian Myers, were two of the 20 people who attended. They called on the local MPP to “stand up for her constituents” and help fight the ER closure. In a previous interview with The Highlander, Scott endorsed HHHS’ decision.

“We’re here to make our presence known and our voices heard,” Tina said. “I feel like Laurie has thrown us under the bus.”

“I asked – everybody here today supported Laurie Scott in the last provincial election. But now, when we need her most, she’s turned her back on us,” added another attendee, David Hammond. “She is our local representative. I want her to represent us on this issue, at least communicate to the powers that be how we feel.”

Scott was not at her Lindsay office at the time of the demonstration, telling The Highlander she had other commitments.

When asked how she responds to claims that area residents feel let down by her lack of action, and response, Scott said, “I understand that many people are concerned about the Minden ER merger. I have released numerous statements on the issue, and I have had discussions with HHHS CAO (Carolyn Plummer), as well as past chairs, nurses, physicians, and, most importantly, constituents.”

Scott said she met with organizers of the rally held in Toronto May 10.

Asked why she was supportive of the Minden emerge closure, Scott said, “HHHS spoke publicly about the fact there were more than 20 ‘close calls’, which would have resulted in the temporary closures of both emergency rooms… in an effort to give at least one emergency department the best chance of remaining open, HHHS made the difficult decision to merge.”

Hammond, who moved to Minden in 2021, said this decision throws his long-term future into doubt.

“We bought where we did because it was so close to a hospital. My wife doesn’t drive, so if something happened to me now, with the Minden site closing, I’m a long way from any emergency room and doctors,” he said.

Twyne believes HHHS is playing with fire by closing the only hospital with immediate access to Hwy. 35 between Lindsay and Huntsville – a busy artery during peak tourism months.

“How many cottagers travel on that road in the summer? How many head-on collisions are there? Minden is a vital hospital. Time matters when it comes to emergencies,” she said. “We need a one-year moratorium on this, where we are consulted… the way this has been handled is not acceptable, it feels like a dictatorship.”