Under a damp and insistent rain, more than 70 people braved the elements to fight for the local hospital they have come to believe in and depend upon.
While they did so, multiple cars streamed by, their drivers honking and waving in a show of support for the Ross to remain as is, and improved, not merged with Peterborough Regional Health Centre.
That’s just what is on the table though, as the Advocate first reported. In the Advocate’s original story on this issue, Executive Director Natalie Mehra of the Ontario Health Coalition explained how hospital mergers tend to be implemented.
“…any services that are offered at both hospitals are considered duplication and something that is to be eliminated. Patients will have to travel, creating the opposite of a community hospital.” Asked specifically about services at the Ross, Mehra replied, “in our experience smaller hospitals lose services” in a merger. Mehra predicts that Lindsay “will lose surgeries, acute care and obstetrics, leaving only the services that are likely to be privatized in the future.”
Shirley Gerhard was holding a sign and rallying to save the hospital today.
“This hospital is important to everyone in the community,” she tells the Advocate. “We should all have a say in what happens to our hospital. I think the Ross is good and it should stay that way,” not merge and potentially lose services.
Gerhard also wonders about all the people who have donated to Ross Memorial over the years to help it acquire most services and equipment to offer.
“Why would we want that to go out of town?” she asks.
Ed and Debbie Clancy were also marching in front of the hospital.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous” for Ross Memorial to merge with Peterborough Regional Health Centre,” says Ed.
His wife agreed. “We don’t want it to just be a home for the elderly.”
They both pointed out how the Ross covers such a large geographic area and how it wouldn’t make sense to reduce services further with a growing population.
“We need more services, not less,” says Debbie.
For Barbara Doyle, one of the three founding members of the Kawartha Lakes Health Coalition, along with Zac Miller and Bonnie Kennedy, she says the community needs a “full-service hospital.”
“We love Ross Memorial. It services the whole community from birth to death,” says Doyle.
She points out there is no public transportation between Lindsay and Peterborough to get people to services the Ross may lose, but travelling more isn’t desirable anyway.
“We don’t want it to just be a service hub” for something like long-term care,” she says.
The Ontario Health Coalition also sent a representative to be at the rally for the Ross, Sara Labelle. Labelle points out the recent rally at Queen’s Park drew more than 8,000 people who are concerned about hospital cuts and plans for privatization in many areas across Ontario, including Kawartha Region.
“It’s great to see so many people here willing to stand up for their hospital,” says Labelle.
— with files from Trevor Hutchinson.