Urgent care clinic opens in Minden to combat ER closure

Minden ER wall with Emergency written in capital red letters, arrow pointing right Photo by Lisa Schell

An urgent care clinic has opened in Minden following the closure of its emergency room at the start of June. Although attempting to replace the ER, locals say the clinic isn’t enough.

Run by Kawartha North Family Health Team, the urgent care clinic first opened in the Minden ER building on July 1. It’s been open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for four days. 

Minden mayor Bob Carter says any medical care is better than none, especially since around half their residents don’t have local family doctors. But the urgent care clinic only deals with small issues like poison ivy rashes or fishhooks in the hand, so it isn’t replacing the ER.

“It’s a fraction of an emergency department. You can’t really compare the two,” Carter says.

The mayor and his team are observing the urgent clinic to collect data and make a case for the ER’s re-opening. The clinic had around 100 non-urgent visits over the Canada Day long weekend, based on observations made by Patrick Porzuczek, a Minden resident, trained first responder, and the leader of the Save Minden Ontario Emergency Room Facebook page.

Porzuczek says this took pressure off the Haliburton hospital, allowing it to focus more on emergency care. But he heard there were long wait times because it was overrun.

“A sick child waited for over six hours and wasn’t even brought into a room to be taken care of,” says Porzuczek. “The mother overheard nurses discussing whether to put them in the hallway on a stretcher or if they should wait.”

In the meantime, Porzuczek and his group of Minden ER advocates are about to begin visiting nearby rural towns. They hope that by gaining support from communities that have been impacted by temporary hospital closures, they can more effectively make their case for better medical services to the Ontario government. They’re planning to visit Chesley on July 10, then pass through Fort Erie and Port Colborne in the following days.

“This issue is province-wide,” Porzuczek says. “But Minden is ground zero.”

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