MUSKOKA, ON- Five doctors in Bracebridge and Huntsville want to see the hospital rebuilds go ahead.

Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare sent out a “Letter to the Editor” today, signed by doctors Sheena Branigan, Caroline Correia, Jennifer Macmillan, Keith Cross, and David Mathies.

In it, all five put forward their views on the decision to rebuild the hospitals in Huntsville and Bracebridge, which has been a source of disagreement in recent days across both communities.

“Our purpose in writing is to respond to the negatives expressed and support the many positives we see from our perspective as physicians,” reads the letter.

“Firstly, we strongly support the Task Force recommendation for two new facilities. We believe two new rebuilds, with the one in Bracebridge on a new site, is the best redevelopment approach, especially for another 50 years. Collectively we participated as active members of the Capital Plan Development Task Force, alongside our municipal leaders, our Foundations and Auxiliaries, and other members of MAHC’s Administration and Board. Our work was based on fact, expert studies and objective analysis, and in the end we participated in an evaluation exercise to collectively score the five potential building options.”

The five say they stand behind the results, and detail the criteria used to score the options of renovating or rebuilding.

“A few points must be made about the costs, as at first blush they do seem daunting,” reads the letter.

“We recognize all the options are expensive and require millions of dollars over time. The cost difference between the renovation and replacement options is not substantive enough to compromise safety, the provision of high-quality care, and the effectiveness of our workspaces – all of which help us recruit and retain skilled providers.”

The five argue that renovations of entire hospitals can be incredibly disruptive for patient care, and describe recent renovations to emergency departments as “quite an awful experience”.

“Renovations were estimated to cost marginally less than new builds; however the savings were not significant enough to warrant the disruption and unpredictability of full renovations,” reads the letter.

“If the Ministry approves the project we are putting forward, the Ministry itself will pay 90 per cent or $430 million of the $560 million construction cost. We believe the local share, which after adjustments for reuse of existing assets and capital campaign commitments by our Foundations is in the $74 million range, is affordable for our communities if we start preparing now.”

The letter ends by describing the rebuild options as one that’s best for future children and grandchildren in the community.

“We do not feel this is best accomplished by trying to make old buildings work,” the letter reads.\

“We believe that to meet current standards, and to incorporate modern technology, while anticipating new approaches to care in the future, new builds are the most cost effective and efficient approach.”

A timeline on the new builds remains undetermined as of this publication. Construction is subject to Ministry of Health Approval.