Former Town councillor.
Word spread quickly after the meeting of the Board of Directors for Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC) last Wednesday evening. The decision from on high was to recommend that “the Board of Directors approve the one hospital model…”
In carefully scripted statements, each board member lined up to vote unanimously for option #3 that was presented in the public consultation meetings last March. Only two board members voiced concern about the process, timing and decision making process and only one member remarked that they had taken the rallies and petitions into account. There was no debate or discussion, just a show of hands when the question was asked.
What disturbed me the most was that many of the comments made concerned themselves with the current financial state of the province as a reason for this decision; why does our local healthcare have to suffer to bail out the province? In my opinion, the MAHC board could have really listened to the local population, chose the current two acute care site option and then let the province be the bad guys.
As I’ve spoken about previously, I don’t believe there is a way to predict how much any of the options offered will ultimately cost, especially if nothing will actually happen for the next ten to 15 years. The funding model can change, the delivery of healthcare will change and new technologies will be introduced. Instead, it seems that the administration and the board feel that the decision should be based on the financial health of the province today, at the expense of local healthcare delivery tomorrow.
So what happens next? Undoubtedly, there are citizens and politicians in both Bracebridge and Huntsville who feel the time to “fight for the site” is now. I’m sure they are mobilizing as I write this.
This is a battle that will become divisive, expensive and nasty as experts are brought in to make the most persuasive pitch to the board over the next eight months as the so-called site selection process unfolds.
This is all for naught, I’m afraid, as in the short time that has passed since last Wednesday night’s meeting there have been unsubstantiated rumours circulating that the board has not only decided on the piece of property they have picked for the site (rumour has it the location is in Port Sydney) but that they are also ready to pull the trigger on an offer for it as soon as the LHIN and the Ministry of Health gives their blessing.
I believe, by far, the best approach is for all of the catchment area Mayors, Reeves and councils (including our neighbours to the north) to rise up and speak as one to the LHIN and Ministry of Health. They need to be forceful in their position that the decision the MAHC board made was the wrong one, period. The vast majority of the constituents of the catchment area were in favour of maintaining the current two acute care hospitals and we cannot take this recent decision lying down.
I call on all Mayors, Reeves and councils, particularly Mayor Aitchison and Mayor Smith, to come together and represent us to the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. The time for unity is now. Our two acute care hospitals and our communities are at risk.
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