Bradley charged after vandalism


County resident Richard Bradley said he will never give up the fight to reinstate the Minden emergency department.

He was one of around a dozen community activists gathered at the Minden hospital May 31, on the eve of the first anniversary of the closure. Haliburton Highlands Health Services (HHHS) shuttered the emerg June 1, 2023 – six weeks after notifying the public.

Representing the ‘Save Haliburton County Emergency Healthcare’ group, Bradley said he wanted to take a stand and let HHHS know “the community hasn’t forgotten.” He used spray paint to inscribe a blue ‘H’ on the HHHS sign welcoming people to the Minden site – in place of the ‘H’ that was removed last year.

“It’s symbolism – we’re trying to get a hospital back here in Minden. I want to put that ‘H’ back on that sign permanently,” Bradley said, noting he used a water-based paint that was easily washable.

He said the urgent care clinic at the hospital, opened last summer and operated by the Kawartha North Family Health Team, and other additions such as the Haliburton County Paramedic Services’ paramedicine program and nursing clinic operated by Haliburton County Community Support Services aren’t enough to support a community that triples in size come summer.

Referencing a letter recently published in The Highlander by David Atkins, who claimed he was left in an empty waiting room with his sick granddaughter for more than four hours before seeing a doctor last month – suggesting the only working physician was off-site resting – Bradley said locals need more access to health services, not less.

“What’s happened, and is continuing to happen, is unacceptable. People need health care, they need to know where it is, and they need to know it’s accessible in emergencies,” Bradley said.

When asked about Atkins’ experience, HHHS spokesperson Lauren Ernst said she couldn’t comment, citing patient confidentiality. She did say there is always at least one doctor on-site.

“Doctor shifts run from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. An overlap shift varies from noon to 8 p.m., and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., pending volumes,” Ernst said. “With major events, an additional doctor may be called in and that’s usually if a doctor needs to accompany a patient to another hospital.”

Ernst did not confirm whether doctors leave the hospital site for breaks while on-shift.

She added facilities staff removed the graffiti Friday afternoon and notified police. Sgt. Paul McDonald with Haliburton Highlands OPP said Bradley was charged June 1 with adult mischief and obstructs, interrupts, or interferes with the lawful use, enjoyment, or operation of property. Bradley is due in court in Minden July 3 to answer to the charges.

Patrick Porzuczek, of the ‘Reopen Minden ER’ group, was also in attendance Friday and condemned Bradley’s actions.

“That sort of thing doesn’t accomplish anything. We need to find productive ways to keep fighting for the reinstatement of our Minden ER,” Porzuczek said