The meeting that took place Monday with the Minister of Health regarding Muskoka’s hospitals was more positive than expected, said Huntsville Councillor Brian Thompson.
At Wednesday’s General Committee meeting (February 24), Thompson brought Council up to speed on the 15-minute meeting between Ontario Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins and Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith, Huntsville’s Mike Harrower and representatives from both municipalities.
“Just so you know, one of the main concerns of our local community here was the erosion of surgical procedures from one hospital to the other and that was made very, very clear to the Minister,” Thompson told Huntsville’s committee, a meeting he chaired in the absence of Mayor Scott Aitchison.
The Minister, this guy’s no slouch, he’s one smart cookie I’ll tell you. He’s totally aware of the situation… The Minister immediately turned to his staff while we were sitting there and said, ‘Let them know in Muskoka that there’ll be no surgical procedures removed anywhere at all until I sign off on it. Councillor Brian Thompson
Further to that he said in the last week or so the medical community in north Muskoka, led by doctors Greg Stewart, Stephen Hill and a number of others, have been in touch with municipal representatives like himself as well as councillors Dan Armour and Karin Terziano to get some kind of action on the hospital front. (See a release from the Medical Practitioners of Muskoka here.)
Thompson said that while the medical community is in favour of the two hospital model the joint Councils of Bracebridge and Huntsville proposed on February 1 (see story here), what concerned them is the main allocation of surgical services to one specific site, rather than maintaining them at both hospitals. He said the request to the Ministry by the medical community is to first of all fund the current and next year’s budget shortfalls of Muskoka Algonquin Health Care (MAHC), which manages both the Huntsville and Bracebridge hospitals. He said that is expected to give all stakeholders an opportunity to come up with a plan.
“They think they’ve got a solution… without losing any services anywhere in Muskoka,” said Thompson. He also told councillors to get involved in the issue and get informed.
We’re all part of this and it’s important to all of us and it’s important to the future of our town and I think we’ve got to get involved… as much as we possibly can be.Thompson
Huntsville CAO-Clerk Denise Corry told Committee that a Healthcare Task Force meeting is scheduled for March 3, 2016 at 9 a.m. in Bracebridge. She said the location has yet to be determined but the meeting is open to the public. The task force was established by the North Simcoe Mukoka Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) to find community consensus on the hospital issue. The LHIN distributes health care dollars in the community and advises the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.