Despite an inspiring community push to save it, Minden’s Emergency Department has permanently closed as of June 1.
Haliburton Highlands Health Services (HHHS) made the decision to close the Minden Emergency Department citing a nursing and medical staffing shortage.
“The on-going shortage of nursing and medical staff means we need to be as efficient as possible with how we allocate our staff and resources,” reads a statement on the HHHS website. “Having more staff available at a single site will help create a more stable staffing situation overall.”
“It’s a heart break and significant loss to our community,” said Patrick Porzuczek, leader of the ‘Save Minden ER’ community group that amassed nearly 5,000 members on Facebook (Minden’s town population is 6,971). “Now anyone who is ill, suffers a major cardiac event or stroke is in jeopardy. It puts the whole community at risk.”
Earlier this year it was the Minden Emergency Department that caught and diagnosed Porzucek’s daughter – aged 6 – with arrhythmia, a heart condition with the potential of life-threatening complications if not treated in a timely manner.
Porzucek and community members are concerned about the closure’s impact on vulnerable populations, healthcare staff, regional growth and the local infrastructure.
In May, Marit Stiles, Leader of the Official Opposition NDP, tabled over 24,000 signatures from Ontarians advocating to save the Minden Emergency Department. The Ontario Health Coalition citizen referendum also revealed that over 400,000 people – 98% of respondents – believe The Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario is moving in the wrong direction on healthcare.
For some, the closure signals a possible fate for other rural ERs across Ontario.
“It’s a warning shot of what’s to come,” said Porzucek. “All of rural Ontario is at risk. I want to educate all of rural Ontario to be aware of their own hospital boards, to be involved, ask questions and to become stakeholders so their voices can be heard.”
Emergency services in Minden will now be transferred to Haliburton, over 25 km away.