A landmark day


On Dec. 12, 2000, the services of the old Minden hospital were transferred to the new one, ending close to a half century of service.
Today (June 1), the emergency department is shuttered after servicing Minden and surrounding communities for 23 years.

It is understandable that the loss is being grieved by everyone in Minden Hills and beyond.

It has been a tumultuous six weeks since the Haliburton Highlands Health Services (HHHS) announced its intentions to consolidate ER services at its Haliburton site.

We applaud the Minden community, and its council, for their tireless efforts in pushing to have the decision paused or overturned.

HHHS and its board have been consistent in their messaging from the start. It remains that a shortage of staff meant the prospect of short-term, temporary, ER closures – with as little as two hours’ notice. HHHS is also confident its plan for the consolidated site will work.

With all avenues to stop the move as of June 1 now exhausted by community members, we will all hold our collective breaths to see how it goes over the summer. We all hope and pray the transition is smooth; that wait times are reasonable; the Haliburton site does not have to temporarily close; and that lives are not unnecessarily lost.

We have also learned that HHHS and its board need to step up their transparency game. Surely, with hindsight, they must recognize that while they believe their decision is right – how they went about it was very, very wrong.

The very workings of the board are questionable. With this decision, they refused to meet face-to-face with the public. They did not consult before the announcement, even with their own ER doctors in Minden. They hold closed meetings before meeting on Zoom. Why are they even still meeting virtually? They don’t have board members’ contact details listed on their website. There have been claims the board is stacked since a past board chair selects from the nominees and the board vets candidates. County councillors say they have asked for board representation and have always been refused.

Going forward, we expect so much more of health care leadership in this County.

We hope they have read the many stories and letters in The Highlander, from doctors, other health care workers, councillors, community groups, fundraisers and service clubs. The list goes on and on of people floored by how all of this has been rolled out.

Our MPP, Laurie Scott, has much to answer for as well. While she may have backed the HHHS decision via media statements and emails to constituents, she should have come to the community.

She should have had the guts to face angry residents. She should have responded to claims her government has dropped the ball on healthcare. An MPP who truly cared about her riding – and did not take it for granted – would have appeared.

And those who voted for her again in 2022 should have done their homework. She was part of a government that capped pay for nurses way back in 2019.

Today is a landmark day in our County. We only hope that we can write in three months’ time that it was one for the better.