$50,000 attempting to be raised by May 23 to fight Minden Hospital ER closure
Opponents of the Minden emergency room closure, scheduled for June 1, are trying to raise $50,000 by Tuesday, May 23 to fight the decision made by the Haliburton Highlands Health Service (HHHS).
The money will be used to retain a litigations lawyer who will immediately file for a judicial review of the steps taken by the HHHS to close the hospital, and push for a temporary injunction that will prevent the closure of the well-used emergency ward that saw over 12,000 patients last year, including over 4,400 from Kawartha Lakes.
Patrick Porzeczek, one of the leaders of the coalition of concerned residents opposing the closure said, “We believe there are grounds (for a case) and our legal team is acting. It will be a long hard fight. Nothing is guaranteed, but this may be our last chance.”
The group announced on social media May 18 that they would need to raise the $50,000 to retain their legal representation over the Victoria Day long weekend, and another $50,000 would need to be found to pay bills as the case moves forward. On May 19, Porzeczek’s group began to collect donations and by May 20 had raised $17,775.
“We need to raise these funds (the retainer) by Tuesday morning to get the lawyer in town and the injunction started before June 1,” Porzeczek said. “Time is something we don’t have. We can do this. The Minden ER deserves this. It has been there for many of us and we are here to talk about it because of the Minden ER.”
Toronto lawyer and area cottager, Jayson Schwarz, has been advising Porzeczek’s group up to this point for free and through his connections the group has found a litigations lawyer willing to take on their case at short notice.
Schwarz said on social media that he wanted to help out as much as he could because he has deep roots in Haliburton as a long-time cottager.
“When I heard about the closing, I was shocked. The ER is important to the future of the community and its future survival. Many have found the ER invaluable and necessary.”
Schwarz said that the purpose of asking for a judicial review is to determine if the directors of HHHS actually followed all the steps they were supposed to before announcing the closing in mid-April.
“Did HHHS have an obligation to consult with everyone from the First Nations to the unions, the local residents, doctors, nurses the municipal councils, county council or the OPP who are going to be dramatically affected by this closure? All of these groups needed to be spoken to.” Schwarz said.
“The money being collected right now only has one purpose,” Schwarz continued. “These funds will pay for the litigations lawyer who will bring the application for a judicial review while at the same time asking the court to grant an injunction.”
Schwarz explained that an injunction, if granted, would force the HHHS to keep the emergency department open.
“I think we have an obligation to our community, to all the vested people, and our children and grandchildren,” Schwarz said. “We need to get this money in the bank. This will be expensive and the other side is counting on the costs deterring us from acting. We need that $50,000 to get going and another $50,000 possibly needed to fight this case to help us save Minden’s ER.”
Schwarz wanted to make clear that the money initially donated is safe in an account set up by Schwarz’s law firm. Over the weekend there will be an opportunity to donate to an on-line trust managed by his firm, and then on May 23 a physical trust account will be opened at the TD Canada Trust branch in Minden for further donations.
For those wanting to help out immediately, you have three options:
Please add your name and contact information.
Minden ER Emergency Trust
Add to memo Save Minden ED Emergency Trust
Add you name and contact info also to the memo
Question: Save ED
Answer: MindenEmerg (one word)
Cheques can be made payable to:
Save Minden ER Emergency Trust
Attach name, address and contact information
Can be dropped off at the group’s office
12818 Hwy 35
Unit 4, Minden, ON
Or mailed to
C/O Patrick Porzuczek
9828 Hwy 118, Algonquin Highlands, ON, K0M 1J2.