County needs HHHS’ plan

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I recently returned from a walking holiday in Spain. Even though the sojourn itself was not until early April, I began my preparations in January. I booked flights, a train, and accommodation months before arriving. I set off knowing that there would be surprises but because of my meticulous planning, few, if any.

Three weeks from today, the Minden emergency room will close and services amalgamated at the Haliburton hospital site. However, when I sat down for a Zoom chat with HHHS CEO Carolyn Plummer and board chair David O’Brien this week – specifically to ask them about plans for June 1 – I was disappointed by what little I was told.

I had hoped that revealing more of the corporation’s plans to the public would somehow allay some of the fear out there, as well as the rumours and speculation a dearth of information can create. In essence, I asked Plummer and O’Brien – in a Jerry Maguire kind of way – ‘help me to help you.’ I emerged from the chat feeling quite frustrated as I had little to share with readers.

We addressed the issues of doctors staffing the consolidated ER, since Dr. Dennis Fiddler had made it clear during the week that his Minden physician group was withdrawing its services – despite assurances they would have continued at the Minden ER indefinitely.

I specifically asked what doctors would staff the new ER. I received assurances they were working on it and news would be forthcoming “very, very soon.” As much as I pressed, I received no concrete answers. I understand some of the reasoning behind that. If there are negotiations ongoing between the Ministry of Health and the Ontario Medical Association, they can’t be discussed openly. Plummer did say maybe Fiddler’s group would help out. If you read the letter in today’s Highlander, it doesn’t sound like the Minden Physician Group is about to change its mind, so it’s not much of a plan.

Plummer did seem to indicate they would be okay from a nursing schedule perspective, but only two weeks previous she indicated they’d have to hire about half-a-dozen nurses.

As for the physical site itself, we did get a bit more information and an offer of a schematic floor plan up to now. It was appreciated learning that the department would endeavour to separate true emergency walk-ins or ambulance transports for those of us who do not have a local family doctor and are left with no choice but to go to the E.R., for non-emergent situations.

And while we understand the June 1 transition has to be top of mind for HHHS, it was conceded the future of the Minden site is still being considered in the background. Ideas are being bandied about. No one wants to make promises that could fall through. We’re still waiting for that plan as well.

We truly hope that HHHS’ assurance it will share its plans in a matter of ‘days’ comes to fruition. The lack of transparency has only fueled the flames of discontent across Haliburton County. Every situation that presents – whether it is pending highway works along 118 – only deepens local fears. HHHS must begin to quell that now. They really should have long ago.

We’re all going on a trip come June 1 and we’d like to know the plans are well in place so that the eventual hiccups are minor and won’t cause ripples across the Highlands.