Mark Clairmont | MuskokaTODAY.com

MUSKOKA — “Progress,” a “conciliatory position,” a new petition and an “urgent appeal” to support equal acute care.

That’s this week’s messages from the Save South Muskoka Hospital committee, following Wednesday’s talks between Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare, doctors and employee partners on hospitals redevelopment.

“The joint consultations indicates that progress has commenced with MAHC’s conciliatory position,” SSMH chair Bruce Kruger says in their fifth updated release Saturday morning. “The doctors are cautiously optimistic that greater movement from MAHC towards the physicians’ ultimate model may be attained.”

“Doctors believe (the meeting) was productive,” adds committee member Cindy Waters.

“Now we need to hear from our doctors to see if they have the same message.”

These were posted last weekend at the Spring Cottage Life Show offering more information for any cottagers or GTA residents unaware of the province’s latest hospital fight in central Ontario.

However, both believe MAHC’s proposal “remains considerably below a full acute care facility in Bracebridge as promised,” says Kruger.

The physicians’ Care Closer to Home model “offers a reasonable alternative” to MAHC’s model, “which falls significantly below the healthcare needs of South Muskoka, he says.

“It is crucial that MAHC understands the unwavering support of our citizens for the doctors’ vision for two equal acute care hospitals.

“At this critical time, it’s imperative that all citizens continue with expressions of protest to our political leaders. Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare must recognize that the height of our opposition has yet to be attained should the physicians’ model fail to be met.

Kruger says his opposition group is “encouraging all citizens” to continue sending their letters of objection to our political leaders at provincial, district, and municipal levels.

And asking the community to display SSMH window and lawn signs.

And ensure their signatures are on SSMH petitions.

“We ask citizens to also air their discontent direct to MAHC by withholding foundation donations until a fair compromise is achieved.”

Adds Waters in her petition update: “We have prepared another petition to be circulated in the coming weeks to continue sending our message that we need, and expect, two fully functioning hospitals in Muskoka.”

She points out a similar battle was waged before in Huntsville where the community felt a need to come together to have continued hospital services, when then mayor — now MP — Scott Aitchison waged war against losing hospital services at the Huntsville hospital.

“Our then (Bracebridge) mayor  — now MPP — Graydon Smith agreed that we need two fully functioning hospitals: One in Huntsville and one in South Muskoka. Their actions and insight have given our communities the tools needed to save our hospitals.  The petitions can help strengthen their good work.

“This is an ongoing effort that can’t stall.  We not only need proof of the vision for two hospitals that serve our communities but assurance and evidence that we get what we have worked for.

“We all have a story we can share of why we are so adamant about this continued healthcare strength in both north and south Muskoka.”

She wants Muskokans to share those stories.

And she “thanks everyone who is staying the course for our communities.

“As a group, we are not standing strong in this effort because we are bleeding hearts that want to cause havoc.  We are doing it for ourselves and our families.  We are doing it for those who came before us and worked to build these hospitals to keep us strong in every way in our communities and in ourselves.  We are doing it for our amazing health care teams that see a future here.

“Lastly, thank you to Graydon Smith and to Scott Aitchison who gave us the tools to keep what we have and build from there.”

You can follow Save South Muskoka Hospital at their ssmh.ca website

Or send an email to ssmh@ssmh.ca.

“We are grateful for all support, whether volunteering, obtaining lawn and yard signs, donating to our cause, or signing our petitions,” says chair Kruger (707-706-2834).

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