“We’ve got to wake up Corner Brook and we’ve got to wake up the people from southern Labrador, and we’ve got to make it from Port aux Basques to Corner Brook and from out to Baie Verte to Corner Brook, said Hann, a long-time advocate for health care and seniors issues.
“Everybody is going to need this hospital. This is the regional hospital.”
Hann said talk of downsizing the facility is especially concerning.
“Geez, it’s not downsizing we want. It’s upsizing we want now,” he said.
The hospital was announced in 2007 and in 2010 the province committed to starting construction last summer. But despite spending $20 million on the project in the last couple of years, construction is nowhere near ready to start.
The site between Cpl. Pinksen Memorial Drive and the Lewin Parkway has been cleared and shaped, and water and sewer extended to it. However, the design for the facility has yet to be decided and the province is currently reviewing a master program report on the hospital completed for it by Stantec.
“I think we have to go out and join hands around that site,” said Hann in reference to a campaign to get a MRI machine for Western Memorial Regional Hospital.
“We’ve got to protest, because this is not right. We can’t go on like this or we’re going to end up with nothing.”
He added that Western Memorial is “deteriorating that fast that you can almost go in and sit down and watch it deteriorate before your eyes.”
Last week, five new state-of-the-art operating rooms were opened at the hospital in Grand Falls-Windsor, and while Hann congratulates that town, he questions why nothing was done for Western Memorial.
“If it comes to rain we’re frightened to death up here that they’re going to have to close the operating room.”
He said any repairs or work done at the hospital is only “patchwork,” and he fears the condition of the facility will affect staffing.
“We’ve got some very good doctors in Corner Brook, but I’m frightened they’re going to start leaving because they’re not going to stay and work under the conditions they have to work in there right now.”
Despite his concerns, Hann still had encouraging words about Health Minister Susan Sullivan.
“I think that she’s a powerhouse,” he said. “(But) the people that we have representing us here on the west coast have fallen asleep. Now I know they’re not going to like that.”
He said there needs to be more women in government from the west coast.
“The women seem to get more done and I think they’ve got a better understanding of the problems that we have than some of the men that are serving on government right now.”