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Minden, Ont. residents seek legal challenge to prevent emergency department closure


Less than two weeks before Minden's planned emergency department closure, residents and cottagers in the area are doubling down on their fight to keep it open.

On April 20, Minden residents were enraged to learn their emergency department would close on June 1 and be consolidated into Haliburton's hospital. Haliburton Highlands Health Services (HHHS) decided to close Minden's E.R. due to staffing shortages and the global healthcare crisis.

"It just wasn't sustainable anymore. We've fought long and hard to keep both sites open, but we've reached a point where we're just not able to do that on a consistent basis anymore. I do feel confident that this is the right decision," said Carolyn Plummer, HHHS CEO, on May 16.

That reasoning has always needed to be better for the municipality and its residents, who are desperate to keep its emergency department.

Minden is 25 km from Haliburton, but its hospital services communities in the surrounding region and even the neighbouring Kawartha Lakes municipality.

A campaign called "Save Minden ER" was launched to raise $100,000 to seek a legal injunction and judicial review of the decision. It comes after weeks of protest by residents and Minden's municipal council.

On Sunday, hundreds of angry residents, council members, former physicians, and Liberal and NDP members across the Queen's Park floor rallied to pause the closure and raise money for their legal challenge.

"Can we permanently stop the closure of this emergency litigation? I don't think we can," said Jayson Schwarz, a GTA lawyer and local cottager, who has been aiding the group in finding litigation lawyers willing to take on the case. "But I do believe we can stop it for June 1. We have a hell of a shot."

Schwarz has been working closely with Patrick Porzeczek, who leads the coalition against the closure.

"What they did was wrong. No consultation with the community, no prior indication that this would happen," Porzeczek said. "Over the last year, when hospitals across Ontario had been temporarily closing their emergency departments, Minden was not among them."

Porzeczek said an injunction to pause the closure temporarily would grant the community more than just time.

"We can get the right plan in place, work together with everybody, bring doctors back to Minden, reset the schedule," he added.

Since the closure announcement, the Ford government has stated that it would not get in the way of the HHHS board, which has concluded "carefully" that this was the right path forward.

"We have been assured that the HHHS board and leadership have made this decision, understanding the needs of their community and their staff," said Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones in Queen's Park on April 27. "I will let them do that work."

Minden's Mayor, Bob Carter, disagrees.

"To make this type of a decision and then for the board to agree to it without even consulting the people or with a plan, it's irresponsible," Carter told CTV News on Sunday. "They didn't do their job, when the board doesn't do their job, they should leave and put a board that does."

As of Monday morning, the group had raised $45,000 of its $100,000 to obtain a retainer for its legal challenge.

Should they not be able to pause the closure on June 1, Porzeczek and Mayor Carter were both adamant that they would not end the fight. Top Stories

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