Help them be here for you

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Melanie Klodt Wong and her board at the Haliburton Highlands Health Services Foundation are pretty savvy when it comes to marketing.

It’s no coincidence they have kickstarted their fundraising campaign for a new CT scanner, and CT mammography unit, in time for the Victoria Day long weekend.

They clearly want seasonal residents to know about their ‘Here for you in the Highlands’ campaign.

They want generational, and new, cottagers to know that when they have an accident, or illness, while here in the County, they can go to Haliburton hospital’s emergency department. And, as of this summer, be able to use the new CT scanner. Mammography will roll out a bit later, but will also be able to be accessed by both full-time and part-time residents.

What our cottagers may or may not know, is the Highlands was the only County in Ontario without the diagnostic imaging equipment. It has resulted in patients having to make lengthy trips to Lindsay, Peterborough, Bracebridge, Huntsville and beyond for CT scans and mammograms. It has taken County land ambulances out of our service area. It has made it difficult for Haliburton Highlands Health Services to recruit doctors. We just got a new ER doctor in Haliburton, and the fact he can soon avail himself of CT scans no doubt helped to get him here.

On Monday, the foundation announced that a long-established County family – the Cockwells, who own Haliburton Forest & Wild Life Reserve, had donated half-a-million dollars to the campaign. That comes on the heels of the County of Haliburton’s taxpayers chipping in $1 million. Other fundraising efforts and gifts have brought the total to $2.59 million of a $4.3 million goal.

They still have $1.7 million to go. However, Klodt Wong told The Highlander she and her volunteer fundraising committee want to exceed that target as the need for equipment continues at Haliburton hospital and they have big plans to make this small rural hospital better.

Health care has been a contentious issue in this County over the past year. We are coming up to the one-year anniversary of the closing of the Minden emergency department. Many have still not accepted that decision. Some will never donate money to the Foundation or HHHS again. While respecting their stance, it may be a case of cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face. We know that full-time residents will benefit from having access to CT scanning, and CT mammography.

But we address this call for financial help to our cottagers. Many of you from the GTA would not necessarily know that Haliburton hospital is behind the eight-ball when it comes to capital equipment. It is a small service that can generally cope with patient demand during the spring, fall and winter. However, when our population balloons to two to three times the size in summer, the hospital is stretched as thin as a hospital can be. We need you to help us so HHHS and its Foundation can indeed be ‘here for you in the Highlands.’