Western Newfoundland residents speak out about needs for new hospital

Diane Crocker
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CORNER BROOK  Twenty-six years ago, Colleen Pynn’s father-in-law was diagnosed with brain cancer and travelled to St. John’s for treatment.

Last year, his son, Pynn’s husband, was diagnosed with skin cancer and also had to travel to the capital for treatment.

Pynn, a Pasadena resident, was one of more than 200 people to attend a public meeting at the Greenwood Inn and Suites Thursday night to discuss the plans for the new hospital in Corner Brook.

They were gathered there by the local health-care action committee to discuss their concerns over delays in the hospital build and a possible reduction in services.

Like many in the group, Pynn wants to see the new hospital offer radiation services, something the province says won’t happen.

But that’s not good enough for Pynn.

“I’m tired of hearing people say there’s not enough need on the west coast for cancer patients,” said the woman who also lost an aunt to cancer last year and a good friend just Thursday morning.

“The reason we’re not getting any radiation treatment is the money St. John’s is going to lose from us.”

Pynn said it cost about $8,000 for her and husband to travel to and stay in St. John’s for eight weeks of treatment. The couple were able to qualify for assistance from the provincial government, but that’s not the case for everyone.

She said people need to stand up and talk about what’s needed here while the hospital is in the planning stages.

“Nothing has changed in 25 years in this province for the west coast and nothing is going to change in the next 20 if people don’t do something about it.”

Pynn wasn’t the only one in the room to express those thoughts.

Corner Brook resident Ted Gillingham called for protests near the site of the future hospital to gauge what the people of Corner Brook and the region need.

Mike Quigley lives about a half hour outside the city and said he’s been bothered by what’s been happening in the last six years with the whittling down of the money available for the hospital, the size of the facility and the equipment.

“This facility, our regional hospital in Corner Brook, should be able to serve all of the west coast, all of Labrador,” said Quigley. “It could easily serve central, from Grand Falls-Windsor and all points west.”

He said the hospital has been dangled in front of people’s noses like a carrot.

“How long are we going to be insulted? How long are we going to let our intelligence be insulted by the government?”

Following the meeting, Israel Hann, chair of the action committee, said he wasn’t surprised by the things the people said or their desire for action.

In fact, he said the turnout and enthusiasm of the group has encouraged him to continue on.

“I was going to give it up, to be honest with you, but I’ll keep at it another while, give it another push.”

Health Minister Susan Sullivan is due to visit the city later this month and has already told the committee she is willing to meet with three of its representatives.

Hann said the committee will update people on that meeting and, as suggested Thursday night, there will be protests.

“We’re going to protest, we’re going to walk around that site up there and see how many people we can get out,” said Hann. “Let the government know the numbers of people who are interested in having a new hospital. We want it built. We don’t want a dog track.”

Organizations: Greenwood Inn

Geographic location: CORNER BROOK, Pasadena, Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Lonewolf
    January 10, 2014 - 22:30

    You want everything but are not willing to do anything for it. If you would allow oil production and mining then you might get people to live here and have the population to justify it, but if you don't have the jobs then you don't have the people. Can't expect to spend millions off dollars for a handful off people so start creating jobs and get your people back. If you want medical help then go to Alberta where all off your people are.

  • is this woman thick or just a liberal
    January 10, 2014 - 08:51

    got nothing to do with population; u could have 200,000 on west coast; u cant get this highly educated young mobile; in demand big time in US of A; and around world; let alone Canada; to set up and practice in little tiny places called da boonies of WesternNfld; what part of that dont people get; we are very very lucky to have great team of Nflders Lab; we have at Health Sciences and Bliss Murphy now; let alone making then trek 500 km to cbrook in middle winter; taking their life in their hands; i would nt be staying long in my home province if that was work conditions i had to put up with; again they are offering these highly sought after and in demand professionals free million dollar house mortagages; free Lamborgina cars; free trips around world; months and months off; for vacation and professional improvment; just to get them in NewYork City and California; how u gonna compete with that; again free lift pass at Marble at gonna cut it;

  • Too Funny
    January 10, 2014 - 08:23

    “Nothing has changed in 25 years in this province for the west coast and nothing is going to change in the next 20 if people don’t do something about it.” Plenty has changed. In particular, the population of the region has dropped by more than 20% over the last 25 years and it's expected to continue dropping for the next 20 years. And the average age of the population is much older. At this rate of "construction", will there be anyone here to use this hospital?

  • John
    January 10, 2014 - 07:50

    A radiation unit is not going to happen. We can't even get GPs to come and work in Corner Brook let alone two teams of specialized doctors to operate a cancer clinic. Tobin bowed to the pressure in Bay St. George to double the size of the hospital planned for Stephenville. They got their big building, but half the time there is not even a doctor there to deliver a baby. And don't say you can pay them double...that is not how it works in a mediated benefits environment.

  • Char
    January 10, 2014 - 07:06

    Its disgusting how the West Coast has nothing compared to St. Johns. Folks need to take a stand. Travelling to St. John's for radiation is barbaric to say the least. Corner Brook has a very old hospital but good Dr's. Stephenville built a new hospital buts its akin to a walk in clinic. The West Coast takes 1 step forward and 2 steps back. Next election, make sure you are heard, don't vote for someone that will run when the bright lights hit.

  • CornerBrookInsider
    January 10, 2014 - 06:58

    What was really interesting about the meeting last night was the people who were not in attendance. Mustn't care whether we get the hospital or not.