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Meeting Tuesday regarding OSMH cutbacks

Posted: April 29, 2016

(April 29, 2016)

By: Mehreen Shahid, Orillia Packet & Times

After Wednesday’s announcement of job and bed losses at Orillia’s hospital, members of the public are being encouraged to attend a town-hall-style meeting next week.

“You’re facing a very significant closure of chronic-care beds,” Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC), said of the cuts being made at Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital.

The hospital will get rid of 16 of the its 180 beds and will eliminate on 35 positions.

“They want to replace them with short-term or rehab beds, and what that means is that it will be harder to access services for people with chronic illnesses and disease, and they will have to pay for care out of their pocket,” Mehra said.

The OHC and the Simcoe Muskoka District Labour Council are organizing a meeting for Tuesday. They invite residents and others impacted by the cuts to show up at the Best Western Mariposa Inn at 7 p.m.

“Everybody is welcome. The more the better,” Mehra said. “We’re hoping that people want to send a strong message that this is an issue people care about and that we want to protect the services in Orillia.”

With hospitals mandated to balance their budgets, the province has a role to play, too.

“The Ontario government needs to improve hospital funding, which is second lowest in the country and far below the average,” Mehra said, adding, “we need to make sure the funding actually makes it to the front lines and not to executive salaries or consultants.”

Tuesday’s meeting will feature speakers, including health professionals, who will talk about how the cuts affect hospital users.

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