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Carling bringing task force together to look at improving healthcare, looking for volunteers

The Township of Carling is looking for volunteers interested in helping with a feasibility study on how to improve local health care. 

The initiative comes from Al Doubrough, Councillor for Carling, who says the idea for the task force came during the recent election.

“I brought up a vision I had to try to improve Healthcare options within the township. At the time that I suggested it to the ratepayers, there seem to be an extremely large interest in this goal of trying to get some way of improving Healthcare Services for the residents of Carling and the immediate area,” he says.

As a result, Doubrough says after discussions with the mayor and Council, it was agreed they follow this up by way of a volunteer-based task force.

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“[We will be] looking at feasibility, we’re not suggesting any solutions at this time. We just want to look at different options to see if we can move forward and how to do that,” he says.

Doubrough says just over the election time, there were about ten people that brought their names forward for the task force, and as of [Wednesday] he’s already had four more inquiries.

“So we seem to be building a very strong interest and at this time I don’t want to limit anyone. We want to get a well-rounded group of individuals of different backgrounds so that we can use their skills and knowledge to help bring ideas forward that we can [use to] possibly produce a business case to take to the Ministry of Health,” Doubrough says. He adds, “what we need is some boots on the ground to help us get the facts and assist us in that area,”.

If the task force moves forward, Doubrough says they’ll need to look at things like facilities, equipment, and possibly fundraising. He says he plans on using the first inaugural meeting to get all those interested together, find out what their skill sets are and discuss how those skills can best be used within the task force. “[Then the aim is] to make up committees so that they can do research and analysis and bring back statistics to the task force that we can use in our proposal,” he says.

Carling officials say the task force will examine options to improve access to medical care for non-emergent medical cases as well as ways to alleviate excess pressure on the local hospital’s emergency department.

“We’re not trying to be an emergency ward,” Doubrough says. “What we’re looking at is the fact that there seems to be extended wait times with the emergency area because it’s also utilized as a walk-in clinic for a lot of people and we also have a lot of people in the community that do not have doctors in the area,” he says.

Doubrough says something else that’s very significant for the Carling area is Killbear Park. “We have a lot of calls out to Killbear park for medical conditions or areas where park residents may get a cut, scrape or insect bite that needs treatment and right now everyone has to go to the hospital emergency room,” he says.

“We have a very large population here in the summertime. Maybe a lot of people don’t know [that] you can get up to 5,000 people at Killbear Park on a single day in the summertime. When things like that happen, [Carling]’s population matches or exceeds that of The Town of Parry Sound,” he says. Doubrough adds that presently, Carling does not even have an ambulance – “everything comes from around us,” he says.

Doubrough says this is a vision that they have in Carling, not a promise to get improved healthcare options because it’s not in their control to make that promise. “There will be consultations that are going to be discussion points that we’ll have within the task force on who to approach and how to approach them. Maybe we will do some questionnaires for people in the area to find out what services they deem are necessary and follow up on that and just see what we can do to make this area better,” he says.

Doubrough does mention that he doesn’t think it’s going to be a quick process, adding that he doesn’t expect the group to have its first report ready until probably June.

A meeting has been set up for Monday, March 27th at 7:00 p.m. at the Carling Community Centre. Officials say the meeting will be held in a hybrid format for out-of-township participants, and in person for those capable of attending.

If you would like a virtual link to the meeting, officials ask you to email [email protected]

Doubrough says right now, he’s anticipating the next meeting to be the last Monday of April and he’s looking at one meeting a month on Monday nights unless he hears otherwise.

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