It was the public’s turn, on June 9, to ask Kawartha North Family Health Team executive director Marina Hodson about KNFHT’s plan for an urgent care clinic in Minden.

During a meeting attended by hundreds at the community centre, Hodson said the application is before Ontario Health East – for funding for two nurse practitioners and two registered practical nurses.

Top of mind for many was how long it would take for a decision.

Asked by one attendee if it would be six months or 12 months, Hodson responded,

“if it’s approved, it will be much sooner than that … I think they see the emergency, more than anything, the influx of community members who live here in the summer and to say ‘we need to really work on this so we can address this issue for summer residents’.”

She went on to tell the audience, “I really do have a good sense that they’re very supportive of this because they have heard how concerned the citizens are. I honestly believe that they are looking at finding solutions. Let’s be honest, they also want to look good in this. They want to be able to come up with a way to solve this and they can’t provide a solution, any more than the politicians can, but what they can do is provide the money and I think they’re very willing to do that and I’m very hopeful. “

She elaborated more on how KNFHT, which has clinics in Fenelon Falls and Bobcaygeon, operates. They are governed by a community-based board, and have Minden representation. She added they would be totally separate from HHHS, other than HHHS being their landlord if they were to move into the former ER.

Hodson said in addition to reaching out to the community, she planned to talk to Minden’s former ER doctors to ascertain what is needed. She is also in talks with Haliburton County’s paramedic chief and Minden Pharmasave. She said partnerships would also benefit residents of Hyland Crest long-term care home.

Asked how the community can become involved, Hodson said one challenge is recruitment, whether it is nurses or a secretary.

“If you know someone, mention it to them. If your granddaughter is going through school and is just finishing off writing her exams for nurse practitioner, which happens to be in August, maybe they’d like to come and work for us. Make sure that you put out the word. Word of mouth is how we traditionally hire most of our staff and it’s been the most effective. I would encourage you, if you know somebody, to speak to them.”

Asked what would happen if the ER were to return, Hodson said they would have a lease agreement to vacate the space but she would want the urgent care clinic to also continue.

“We need both. The community needs a lot more than just an emergency room. I am hopeful we’d be able to work with the ER, to augment some of the staffing shortages they experience so they don’t have to worry about temporary ER closures.

“While we would be an urgent care clinic, we recognize there is a major lack of access to primary health care in this community. We are very much wanting to offset as much of that demand as we can.”

One audience member commented, “I’d like to say what you are proposing is a great idea.”

Other questions and answers:

• Can I go if I don’t have a primary care provider? Yes.

• What if I have a primary care provider elsewhere? Can I be de-rostered for using the urgent care clinic? No. There would be no financial reason to do so. Doctors are paid via OHIP. Nurses are salaried employees of KNFHT.

• Can the nurses ask patients to come back for future appointments? Yes, however it is not a permanent arrangement.

• Will there be access to X-rays? Yes

• What can the urgent care clinic do? It’s not an ER, but somewhere between an ER and walk-in clinic. People can get stitches. They can have fractures attended to but won’t get a permanent cast. They can get prescriptions filled. The clinic can call an ambulance for more serious issues. They can, in some cases, refer patients to specialists. They will send test results to your primary care provider. They can draw blood to send to a lab.

• The diabetic clinic is still attached to Minden Hospital.