A recent survey on health services in Muskoka is bringing back some valuable information.

Between August and October, Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare ran an online survey focused on healthcare services in the district. According to MAHC, Over 2,100 people took the survey with most being year-round Muskoka residents. The survey was looking for opinions on what healthcare services are most important to Muskokans and visitors and how those services should be delivered. The survey asked for opinions on the three hospital models that are being considered by MAHC. This includes keeping the original two-site model in Bracebridge and Huntsville, adapting the two sites to offer in and outpatient services and putting all the services in one hospital.

Most people who took the survey were in favour of keeping the current two-site model. Officials say residents were also concerned about hospital travel times, keeping doctors as well as attracting more to the area and having more health services available locally.

Cameron Renwick who chairs the Capital Plan Development Task Force says the survey showed there needs to be more information released on these proposed hospital site models.

Renwick says they will be looking for more public feedback in the near future and MAHC plans to break down each site model to help get more informed comments. He says that report should be ready for the public by January.

The Capital Plan Development Task Force has been put together as part of a $1 million dollar project grant provided by the province to help MAHC plan for Muskoka’s future in healthcare services. The planning committee will help MAHC decide which site model would be the best one to offer these services.

The committee is also creating a plan on how MAHC can pay to build the infrastructure needed to provide those services. One question in the online survey asked residents if they’d be willing to pay for a portion of development costs in their municipal taxes. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care will provide up to 90 per cent of the funds needed to renovate or build new facilities, but MAHC is responsible for finding the other 10 per cent in the community. Nearly 2,000 of the people who took the survey said they’d be willing to pay through their taxes.

Chief Executive of Diagnostics, Ambulatory and Planning Harold Featherston says this is only one option MAHC is considering as it plans ahead.

Featherston says aside from this they would also still rely on support from the hospital foundations in Bracebridge and Huntsville to gather needed funds for upgrades to medical equipment.

Featherston says MAHC will have a final report with the preferred site model selected by late next year.

He says MAHC will present more details to the public once this decision is made in the spring.

The MyMuskokaNow newsroom will keep you updated on this healthcare services planning phase. You can read more about the survey results here.

Previous stories:

MAHC is offering more insight into upcoming healthcare changes

District of Muskoka CAO joins MAHC healthcare planning task force

One or two hospital discussion to be reviewed by new MAHC planning task force

MAHC officials are preparing a task force to plan the future of healthcare in Muskoka

MAHC gets $1 million to start planning a new healthcare model for Muskoka