My life has been saved twice by our local surgeons ~ Jenny Kirkpatrick


Recently I was admitted to Huntsville Hospital, a very ill person, and in need of immediate surgical care. I got excellent (conservative) treatment and am now home recuperating. Why am I sharing this? I needed and received timely, exceptional, local surgical care. We all need to continue to have a complete acute care hospital in our community! We need to be heard!

Longer version: I have tended not to share many personal issues on social media, but I need to share this, lest I squander a perfect chance to give the issue of our local hospital‘s future a personal face.

Recently, out of the blue, after a four mile run, I began having extreme abdominal pain and quickly felt very ill. We called an ambulance early in the morning and with efficient and very caring examination, I was diagnosed with an obstructed bowel. I have had over a dozen major abdominal surgeries since my teens, and although this episode was a complete surprise, anyone with the amount of scarring that I have in my belly is at a higher risk of obstruction.

This can be deadly and frequently requires surgical intervention. I absolutely needed to be in a surgeon’s care. Luckily Huntsville has a great medical staff including three excellent surgeons. Bias alert here: As many know, I am married to one of them. Chances were that I would need an operation unless I could ‘unkink’ myself. (No one wanted to operate because there are all sorts of extra risks involved in trying to navigate a belly full of an adhesed mess of gut, vessels, organs etc….You are welcome for this great visual 😉 )

It was an anxious and sickly week, but I never doubted that I was in the best of hands and that I could be confident in agreeing with whatever decision was suggested. As it turns out I am gratefully ‘unkinked’, thanks to my surgeons’ ingenuity in trying a new non-surgical technique on me.

We are so incredibly fortunate to have a hospital within our community staffed by a cohesive group of committed professionals, many of whom are also friends and family. We as individuals cannot afford, and our Huntsville community cannot afford, to lose our fully active hospital. I can unequivocally say that my life has been saved twice by our local surgeons.

The current debate about one or two, modified or re-purposed, future hospitals to serve Muskoka has to hear our voices! Please continue to stay current and involved in decisions that are being made and stand unequivocally behind the demand for a fully-serviced, acute-care hospital in Huntsville.

Jenny Kirkpatrick has lived and worked in Huntsville for 30 years. She is a professional photographer, wife of one of Huntsville’s general surgeons, and mother of two grown children. As an everyday community member, but also as someone who has needed multiple surgeries over the years, she feels strongly that we must be very protective of our local acute-care hospital.



Don’t miss out on Doppler! Sign up for our free newsletter here.



  1. Arlene Anderson on

    I had the same problem last year and the surgeon who looked at me in E.R. also felt it would be an
    excellent idea for the problem to, as you said, “unkink” itself. It worked! I am forever grateful!
    Follow up procedures have been necessary but all handled well.

    Moving this hospital or closing it is just not something the area can handle. There has to be a
    better way. The care is outstanding and compassionate. Thanks for sharing.

  2. My Mother-in-law had to have emergency gall bladder surgery. Now the big problem was, she was 90 years old and this was her first ever surgery. At first none of the doctors wanted to perform surgery, but I said you can’t leave her like this. I cannot remember the female surgeons name, but she took her under her wing, performed the surgery and she was fine! Then 3 years later, she fell and broke her hip. Again nobody wanted to operate because of her age. Again I said you cannot leave her like this. A doctor in Parry Sound operated on her. Huntsville sent her in a brand new ambulance….which we cannot understand has poor shocks..over the bumpy roads. Just before surgery, the doctor said to me that most patients her age don’t survive the surgery. I looked at him and said you don’t know my Mother-in-law. She did fine and lived to be 97 years old. She never walked again other than when they tried to get her to do physio. She was too afraid of falling.
    Even when she was at Fairvern, she would have frequent urine infections due to her not moving around. Again having a hospital close by made it easier for her care.
    My husband had to have immediate survey on his hernia. Dr. Kirkpatrick took him on. It turned out to be rare survey where the umbilical cord never died when he was a baby and strangled the hernia. Dr. Kirkpatrick was so excited and explained it to his parents and myself drawing a picture of what happened. He operated and all was well.
    Without local care, he could have died.
    We take healthcare for granted until we need it. Sometimes even the drive to Bracebridge is too long before medical services are needed. Many seniors and low income families don’t have a vehicle to take them to Bracebridge. Taking a bus or cab will be too late for some!

  3. Norine Persoon on

    Thank you for sharing your story and so happy it all worked out for you…Both my husband and I have had emergencies here. If we have to travel a great distance is so unfair when one is ill…Everyone needs a hospital in their area. And Huntsville Hospital is one of the best…Please don’t take it away as we are seniors and need this facility so badly…Nothing wrong where it is at, new building does not heal or keep one alive, it is what and who is inside doing the work…Thank you..

  4. Thank you Jenny. I too have on several occasions been operated on and have received the best care that anyone could ask for. On two of those occasions I was immediately diagnosed, put in an ambulance and whisked of to Toronto General Hospital and was saved by the speed in which your husband expedited me. Thank You Roy.

  5. Jenny, thanks for sharing your story. It is very moving and the true answer to why we need two acute care hospitals.
    Huntsville has been so fortunate to attract such professionals.. Surgeons,Specialists, Nurses and family Physicians and Palliative Care Doctors who truly are the best,anything less is taking us backwards,as a community we can’t allow this to happen. Jenny your story is living proof.Who needs further studies?

  6. This article totally sums up the need for two acute care hospitals! Huntsville is growing very quickly at this time and will only keep growing as more “boomers” retire! Keep expressing your opinions, everyone! Thanks for sharing your story, Jenny.

  7. Thank-you for sharing, Jenny.

    The buildings in Huntsville and Bracebridge do not exist as independent health facilities, they are rather two buildings which are part of a single health care entity called Muskoka Algonquin Health Care (MAHC). This happened several years ago when the two hospitals amalgamated. We already have one hospital. When reporters and writers talk about the Huntsville Hospital and the Bracebridge Hospital, they are unwittingly misleading people. There is no Huntsville Hospital to save, it does not exist. There is no Bracebridge Hospital to keep, as it does not exist. Over the last few years decision-makers have streamlined services in many ways and have closed many beds in an effort to live within financial limitations imposed by the government.
    If we want to get our original full service hospitals back in both towns, maybe we should look at de-amalgamation, and return to having our own hospital board and our own hospital administration. This of course, would require the agreement and co-operation of the LHIN and the Ministry of Health.

  8. I have just sent another letter to –
    Norm Millar
    Tony Clement
    Premier Kathleen Wynne
    – to let them know how we feel. We all need to keep doing this; to let them know we feel very strongly about this and will not go away.

  9. Nadya Tarasoff on

    My husband and I are so grateful for the compassionate expertise and consultative culture of our Huntsville Hospital. Last January my husband had acute abdominal pain: insisted it was constipation until he was in such agony we had to call 911. In a few hours the problem was diagnosed and Dr. Kirkpatrick skillfully unlinked the twisted lower bowel. After much consultation we were convinced that Kim needed surgery to prevent a reoccurrence. Minus half a meter of flabby gut Kim was able to celebrate his 90th birthday and get back to working in the woods.

  10. Well written Jenny!

    Yes, often we take for granted our wonderful hospital and the skilled staff that treat their patients with care and dignity not a number like other larger hospitals.

    I have received care and my family as well over the many years we’ve lived in Huntsville. My own daughter has received medical care twice that has saved her life. Once as a infant and then later after giving birth to her own child.

    Yes we need to save and fight for our Hospital to remain in Huntsville to serve future generations.

    Thank Jenny for sharing your story and for sharing your husband who has dedicated his life to serve his community. I have been a recipient of his care!

  11. Thank you Jenny for this honest and informative article. We all need to take action to keep our Huntsville Hospital in place. We are truly fortunate to have the hard working, devoted staff members at our hospital.

Leave a reply below. Comments without both first & last name will not be published. Your email address is required for validation but will not be publicly visible.