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Ontario NDP leader joins residents to fight Minden ER closure

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Residents, political leaders and advocacy groups are ramping up the pressure on the Ford government to step in as the clock ticks down to the closure of Minden's emergency department, but so far, their cry for help has gone unanswered.

"Doug Ford needs to step in and help this community out," said 'Save Minden ER' Coalition Leader Patrick Porzuczek.

On Thursday, Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles visited the town to support the fight against the June 1 closure.

"We're not going to take no for an answer here. This community deserves that kind of care, and if we don't, frankly, save this emergency department, then this is just going to be more pressure on other small rural town hospitals," Stiles stated.

Similar closures have already happened in Chesley, Ont., where the emergency department has been closed for 24/7 care since December, and Grey Bruce Health Service (GBHS) warned that further emergency department closures would likely come to all its hospitals this summer, noting temporary service reductions were being discussed "as a last resort."

In a release issued Thursday, GBHS echoed the issues heard by hospital officials across the province.

"Unfortunately, it is expected that contingency plans will need to be put in place where staffing shortages make it unsafe to keep the doors open."

In a community message, Haliburton Highlands Health Services Acting Chief of Staff Dr. Norm Bottum stated that the medical team is "deeply committed to delivering high-quality and safe care."

It continues in part, "The decision to close the Minden emergency department and consolidate services at one site as of June 1, 2023, has been an incredibly difficult decision for our leadership that was made after many years of searching for solutions that would stabilize and protect emergency services in the County over the long term.

Our goal is to ensure our community has a stable and safe emergency care system that you can all count on. This means having an emergency department that is open and able to provide quality services - each and every time someone shows up in an emergency department."

Buttom added the community "is supported by access to 911."

The Ontario Health Coalition criticized the sudden closure announcement, saying it bypassed the regular process and democratic checks and balances.

Meanwhile, a petition for the province to impose a one-year moratorium on the planned Minden emergency department closure has surpassed 24,000 signatures, well over the town's population.

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