Kincardine's doctors are meeting with the South Bruce Grey Health Centre board this week in a final attempt to save the hospitalÆs physiotherapy department.
The doctors have arranged a meeting with a committee of the SBGHC board Thursday night in Walkerton. Staff from each of the four SBGHC hospitals have also been encouraged to attend.
Walkerton was suggested as the meeting site because it is the most central of the four sites and cuts down travel time for all the doctors involved.
"Our hope is to get the board feeling the same way we do," said Dr. Lisa Roth. "We're meeting to sort this out."
The doctors are meeting to protest proposed changes to Kincardine's physiotherapy clinic. The changes would mean a loss of publicly‑funded outpatient services at the hospital.
"We're hopeful (the plan will be abandoned)," Roth said. "If this doesnÆt work, we're not going away."
The plan has created a storm of vocal opposition from local residents. Many letters have been written to board members and local politicians. A petition has also been circulated, gathering a large number of signatures.
Thursday, beginning at 8:30 a.m. a peaceful protest has been planned at the bottom of the hill below the hospital. Concerned citizens are asked to gather and show their displeasure with the actions of the hospital board.
"If there was no protest, there is no way this could happen for us," Roth said. "It gives us a great bargaining tool."
When contacted for comment, hospital board chair John Haggerty refused to comment on the physiotherapy situation. He admitted a meeting was scheduled with the doctors, but refused to give a date or time.
Kincardine representative Barry Schmidt also said he knew little of a proposed meeting. He referred to Haggerty for comments on the board's position.
Haggerty said the board will release a statement early next week outlining their plans for the physiotherapy department.
"We've provided an alternative service to residents of Kincardine rather than completely cutting (physiotherapy) out," Haggerty said.
All Kincardine's physicians have given their support to the actions being taken by concerned citizens. The doctors urge everyone to attend the protest, or give their support.
Roth said the doctors will not stop fighting against the changes. If their meeting with the board is unsuccessful, she will spearhead an appeal to higher levels.
"We're hopeful and optimistic the public's voice will make a difference," Roth said. "The doctors are in support of everything the public can do."