It is a burr under my saddle, a bee in my bonnet, that the Madoc/Tweed/Marmora/Queensborough area is so far from a hospital. It worries me. I would have no concern making the 50-minute trip to Belleville General Hospital in Belleville for non-urgent things like, I don’t know, a broken arm; but 50 minutes is a long time if you’ve had a heart attack or have been in a serious accident. And a recent report in the local press about average ambulance-response times in central Hastings County – more than eight minutes in some cases, which is an eternity if you’ve had a heart attack – doesn’t make me feel any better.
So yeah, if you live in central Hastings the nearest hospitals – or more to the point, emergency rooms – are in Belleville, Bancroft (an hour away) and Campbellford (also an hour). And yes, I know we live in a rural area and you can’t have everything. But hear me out.
The combined population of the greater Madoc, Tweed and Marmora areas – through which, I want to stress, runs heavily travelled Highway 7, the Trans-Canada Highway, where accidents happen regularly – is just under 17,000. If you add in the nearby areas that would doubtless also make use of a regional ER (Havelock in Peterborough County to the west, Stirling-Rawdon in Hastings to the south, and Addington Highlands in Lennox and Addington County to the east), the population total rises to almost 30,000.
Meanwhile, the Campbellford area’s population is about 12,000 (though the hospital’s catchment area would go into Stirling and also the Havelock area, so okay, maybe 25,000 total). Bancroft’s population is less than 4,000. Picton, in Prince Edward County south of us, has a hospital, and its population is less than 5,000. Lindsay, in nearby Victoria County (or, as it’s officially and boringly known because of a boneheaded decision of a few years back, Kawartha Lakes), has a hospital, with a population of about 20,000. And little Minden, Ont. (where I was born), in Haliburton County, local population less than 6,000? Yes, you guessed it: it has a small hospital, complete with ER.
I think you can see where I’m going with this.
We don’t need a full-service hospital. We don’t need long-term or rehabilitative care; that can be done in Belleville (or in non-hospital facilties), for sure. But I think we need a small but well-equipped ER where emergency and trauma cases can be efficiently dealt with, with a helipad so patients can be transferred quickly to a larger centre if need be. It doesn’t have to be a big sprawling building, so it doesn’t need a big property. Parking can be underground and the helipad can be on the roof (as opposed to on an adjacent piece of land).
It should be very close to Highway 7. It should be centrally located. I know just the spot.
It’s the lot beside the brand-new McDonald’s in Madoc, a vacant space that currently has a big sign on it inviting development. It’s not a huge piece of land, but I think it’s big enough. The location is perfect, right at the intersection of Highway 7 and Highway 62, and not a long drive from either Tweed or Marmora.
Now, I know it’s a big deal even in the best of economic times to get a new hospital built. It requires great drive from the broad community, and it needs tough and determined people to lead the charge and raise money. But it can be done. And it should be done.
It would make our area much more attractive to companies that could provide jobs, and to new residents who would add to the tax base. And I bet it would save a lot of lives.
Shall I make it my mission? Anybody else in?