Huntsville mayor retracts hospital statement after backlash

Huntsville Mayor Claude Doughty scrambled to issue an apology for his comments regarding a hypothetical hospital-restructuring scenario earlier this month.

Doughty sparked community outrage suggesting that Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare should downgrade one of its two hospitals to deal with a $6 million funding shortfall. He told the local media Huntsville’s District Memorial Hospital should be the acute care centre (full service hospital) while Bracebridge should be downgraded to a chronic care facility.

The comments are likely the beginning of communities battling over increasingly scarce resources brought on by government underfunding.

Doughty said his comments addressed a “worst case hypothetical scenario”, but they still resulted in a flurry of phone calls culminating into a town hall meeting in Huntsville. Attendee’s included regional mayors, Muskoka Algonquin healthcare officials and concerned residents.

The meeting resolved with consensus to work together to maintain both full service hospitals instead of fighting over scarce funding resources. 

Barry Monaghan, interim chief executive officer for Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare said a strong case was made for additional funding from the government.  A number of letters have been sent to the Minister of health Deborah Mathews requesting the necessary funding to address the structural deficit.

The community now awaits a response from the government. 

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