Victory in Midland: community to keep secular hospital - Community vows to pressure province for funding solution

    MIDLAND, ON, Aug. 3 /CNW Telbec/ - The proposal to merge Midland's
Huronia District Hospital with the Catholic-run Penetanguishene General
Hospital has been dropped due to community outcry.
    Huronia's trustees officially withdrew the merger idea at a special
meeting of both hospitals' boards last night. The merged hospital would have
been run as a Catholic institution.
    "We are delighted that we have been given this temporary respite from
cuts to health care services," said Natalie Mehra, Director of the Ontario
Health Coalition. "Now we must pressure the provincial government to cover the
hospital debt which we understand was caused by provincial restructuring in
the first place."
    At risk were reproductive health services such as abortion, vasectomies
and other procedures. Many people were also concerned about the loss of
services to gay and lesbian community members as well as "end of life"
    The board pledged to create several task forces, including a community
task force, "to find solutions to the governance and financial challenges"
facing the hospital.
    "I commend the board's commitment to involve the community in the next
steps of this difficult process," said Debby Mink, Co-chair of the Midland
Health Coalition. "The board will need the community's support to lobby health
minister George Smitherman to provide the funding this community needs."
    Mink said that this episode has reminded her community to be watchful of
the changes that are taking place in the health care system under the new
Local Health Integration Network, or LHIN.
    "We hope that, through all of this conflict, we have been able to show
our LHIN and Mr. Smitherman how much we value our hospital, and that we are
willing to rise up as a community to protect each and every health service."

For further information:

For further information: Natalie Mehra, Director, Ontario Health
Coalition, cell: (416) 230-6402 (Friday only); Vern Edwards, Co-chair, Midland
Health Coalition, (416) 578-4258; Debby Mink, Co-chair, Midland Health
Coalition, (705) 549-5771

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Ontario Health Coalition

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