AGM won’t reverse ER closure

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Haliburton Highlands Health Services’ (HHHS’) annual general meeting is coming up today (June 22) and it will be interesting to see what happens.

As of press time June 21, The Highlander had not received a media package. That isn’t surprising. Press agendas for board meetings tend to come only shortly before the meetings. And former CAO Carolyn Plummer’s report was sometimes sent immediately prior to the meeting. Not a great practise for the general public when it comes to transparency.

Many members of the public have also questioned the timing around the Minden ER closure announcement of April 20, and the deadline to apply for HHHS membership only a few days later, since HHHS requires a 60-day period for memberships prior to an AGM.

Others have complained there were no online forms.

It would appear that HHHS has attempted to reduce voices of concern about its hasty closure of the Minder ER prior to its 27th annual AGM.
However, the truth is, even with a stacked meeting of new members, they would have no impact on the ER consolidation or overturning the board.

Last year’s AGM, for example, simply included the business of the corporation, including reports of the CEO and board chair, chief of staff, auditor, HHHS Foundation, nominating committee, election of directors, and appointment of auditors.

There is expected to be a short, perhaps 20-minute question and answer period, but it will have to be on the business of the corporation.
However, with a new board of directors, and we hear there will be some new faces, we can hope the board does a better job of providing the much needed transparency that the public is crying out for.

We are hearing from sources the future will include better community outreach and broader representation.

This is something the newly-minted Minden Position Paper Multidisciplinary Team is calling for.

As outlined in a story in today’s Highlander, they say they have conducted rigourous research into the impacts and decision-making process behind the Minden ER closure.

They are now seeking an open and transparent dialogue with HHHS. They had hoped this would occur prior to the AGM but perhaps it will happen after. We would also ask the board to reconsider it past practise of not having a County council representative. It would be an important inclusion moving forward.

While not giving up on an ER returning to Minden Hills one day, we also welcome news from the province this week that it will fund an urgent care clinic for the town, to fill the dearth created by the loss of an ER.

Many lessons have been learned by this painful process of consolidated ERs in our County. Could the province have done – and do – better? Most certainly. Could HHHS management and the board have done a better job. Definitely. Could the County’s politicians and the public have been more involved in decision-making prior to the April 20 announcement. Most assuredly.

Minden has put a health care spotlight on the Doug Ford government. It is a government that throws health care dollars, and other dollars, away, on seemingly wasteful things. It is heading towards health care privatization.

Personally, I’ll pay more than a buck for a beer, and am happy to pay for my vehicle registration, in exchange for better local health care. I think we all would.