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"We believe that the proposed integration will be devastating, with centralized surgeries, rehabilitation and palliative care moved.”

Health Coalition organizes meetings to talk about proposed merger’s impact

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Citizens concerned about the impact of the proposed ‘integration’ of the Ross Memorial Hospital and the Peterborough Regional Health Centre will have the opportunity to attend local meetings and discuss their thoughts on the merger – but these events were not organized by the hospitals.

The two events, organized by the Peterborough Health Coalition and the Ontario Health Coalition, will be held in Lindsay on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 7-9 p.m. at the Christian Fellowship Centre (59 Mary St W.) and in Peterborough on Thursday Sept. 13, 7-9 p.m. at the Peterborough Lions Center (347 Burnham St).

Charlene Avon, local organizer and a board member of the Ontario Health Coalition, says the events will provide residents with an opportunity to “voice their concerns and tell their stories.” OHC Executive Director Natalie Mehra and local activists will be speaking at both events.

The hospitals themselves had organized information sessions on the proposed integration. Avon found those meetings to be “weak attempts to enable the hospitals to claim that they had sought community attempt.”

As discussed at length in The Lindsay Advocate here, any discussion of what services would be moved from one hospital to another as part of this merger was considered ‘outside the scope’ of the ‘consultation’ process. In other words, despite the fact that every other merger in the history of Ontario hospital mergers has involved ‘eliminating duplication of services’ or moving services from one hospital to another, the public meetings organized by the hospitals themselves could not address any questions about services.

Shortly after the publication of The Lindsay Advocate story, the last public meeting organized by the hospitals — which was scheduled for Lindsay on Aug. 29 — was cancelled so that the boards of the two hospitals could consider “new information.”

Many residents have found there has been a lack of detail coming from the hospitals. Local resident Bonnie Kennedy is a retired nurse who has worked at large teaching hospitals where amalgamations took place, and is “concerned about the outcome of the proposed merger in regards to patient care and the services provided.”

She attended the July 31 meeting in Fenelon Falls and the August 7 meeting and found that both meetings stressed that a merger would help the hospitals to recruit staff.

According to Avon, the Peterborough and Ontario Health Coalitions are “deeply concerned about the impact this proposal will have on our communities, our families, friends and neighbours. We believe that the proposed integration will be devastating, with centralized surgeries, rehabilitation and palliative care moved.”

Avon, who believes that this merger can be defeated, is urging citizens to join the coalition in a forum that allows concerns to be heard and action plan to be made to protect the future of healthcare in the City of Kawartha Lakes and Peterborough.

For more information on these new citizen meetings, contact Charlene Avon at 705-761-4408.

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A graduate of the University of Toronto, Trevor Hutchinson is a songwriter, writer and bookkeeper. He serves as Contributing Editor at The Lindsay Advocate. He lives with his fiancee and their five kids in Glenarm, Kawartha Lakes.

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