About 600 residents packed the Bracebridge Sportsplex Saturday morning to rally in support of keeping Muskoka’s two hospitals strong. Faced with uncertainty as Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC) continues to deliberate on whether to single-site surgical services to either Bracebridge or Huntsville hospitals, local politicians and residents sent a clear message today that they don’t want that to happen. Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith says the problem facing the hospital board is one of funding from the Province.
“The Ministry needs to know the support they are giving our hospital is not enough,” he said to loud cheers. Smith argued that Muskoka is unique and should be seen as such by the Province as hospitals here have to provide service to huge swaths of urban and rural residents.
Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Norm Miller spoke about what local hospital services means to local families. He used an example of how the Bracebridge hospital provides unbelievable service in times of need – a fact that was recently highlighted in a letter to the local paper. He quoted from the letter writer who stated Bracebridge hospital performed tasks for one of their family members as if it was their own family and that “it brought tears of comfort”
Throughout the rally, residents rattled hospital bed pans and cheered on the speakers.
District Chair John Klinck said organizers did “a great job in rallying the community.”
“Healthcare knows no boundaries, said Klinck. “People to the north, south, east and west benefit from Bracebridge hospital.” Klinck added that healthcare facilities are assets that people who invest and move to our communities look at sharply. “A GTA approach to funding doesn’t always work in rural Ontario,” he said.
Gravenhurst Deputy Mayor Jeff Watson said “Gravenhurst stands with our neighbours to show our support for a strong MAHC healthcare system.”
“It impacts our children and their children and generations to come,” he said. “We from Gravenhurst cannot say enough about the excellent service we receive through our local hospitals. We believe strong healthcare can continue with the right formula.”
Huntsville Mayor Scott Aitchison said the communities of Bracebridge and Huntsville must stand together on the issue.
“There’s no question we (Bracebridge and Huntsville) are competitive in many ways,” he said, “but on this issue we are unanimous and we must be: We want two full acute care hospitals in Muskoka.”
(Photos courtesy of Josianne Masseau, Flaunt It Designs, on behalf of the Town of Bracebridge)