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Minden and Chesley, Ont. residents fight to save their hospital's futures

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The parallel between emergency department closures in two communities hundreds of kilometres away has brought residents from each to fight against it.

On Friday, Minden, Ont. residents visited Chesley, Ont., where the community's emergency department cut back on 24/7 care to operate on weekdays only from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

At the time, the South Bruce Grey Health Centre decided to combat rolling daytime and overnight closures at the hospital that had been in place since 2019.

"We only have part-time ER services," said Brenda Scott, co-chair of the Chesley Hospital Community Support group. "We're concerned that signals the potential end to our hospital."

It's a similar story in Minden, only tenfold.

The community is set to lose its emergency department on June 1, when it will be consolidated into Haliburton's hospital.

'Save Minden ER' coalition co-chairs Richard Bradley and Patrick Porzuczek made the trek to Chesley on Friday to meet with its residents and to share their own stories.

"This is a community of not necessarily the highest income people that don't have vehicles to travel to another hospital," Bradley told CTV News. "The other hospital is about 25 minutes away. Well, that sounds a whole lot like us."

A statement from the Ministry of Health echos what the Ford government has been saying since Minden's Emergency Department closure was first announced.

"Hospitals are independent corporations who are authorized to direct their own operations, including decisions respecting services that they provide and in what locations; the Ministry of Health is not involved in these decisions, and to suggest so is false," it reads. "What the NDP fails to understand is this consolidation was made by Haliburton Highlands Health Services board and leadership, as they are responsible for daily operational decisions. It is not a closure."

Residents and Ontario's opposition party argue that it is, in fact, closing.

"All that will be left is an x-ray and bone density scanner," said Chris Glover, MPP for Spadina-Fort York. "I don't know how the government defines a hospital, but when they say they're not closing the hospital, it doesn't add up with the facts."

The Ford government added that some existing services would remain in place following June 1.

If they cannot prevent the closure, Bradley and Porzuczek say they won't rest until the decision is overturned.

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