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Hundreds attend town hall to voice concerns about MAHC hospital plan changes

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Hundreds of Bracebridge residents voiced their concerns on Tuesday as the Muskoka Algonquin Health Centre (MAHC) held a town hall following its announcement of changing hospital plans.

The meeting was held at Bracebridge Sportsplex, with over 300 people attending, which aimed to outline new plans for the two new hospitals in Bracebridge and Huntsville.

The controversial plan, which would divide specific services between both hospitals, has generated opposition from many residents and physicians who work and live in the area, with some saying the divided services would limit health care access.

"We want the community to understand our concerns with this model, which are mostly to do with the obstetrics care and the transfer of patients. We feel that South Muskoka is losing services with this model and we want to make sure that the public understands the concerns from doctors and nurses," said Dr Scott Whynot.

Also included in the plan, MAHC has indicated that while both hospitals will have ICUs and surgical centres, Bracebridge will have 14 inpatient beds while Huntsville will have 139.

At the meeting, Bracebridge Mayor Rick Maloney called for a resolution and a plan that supports the future of healthcare and the people who call the community home.

"There is far too much at stake to not get this right 60,000 permanent and seasonal residents of south Muskoka are depending on it", said Maloney.

MAHC will hold another public meeting Wednesday in Port Carling, with the possibility of a second public meeting for Bracebridge residents who weren't able to attend on Tuesday.

"It is not set in stone; we're looking for ideas that will make the plan better, and so if people have suggestions that can contribute, we're looking for that; it is absolutely what we are doing," said Alasdair Smith, VP and chief financial officer for MAHC.

MAHC hopes to submit a final plan to the government by May.

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