Corner Brook man says O’Connell Centre should be re-opened for long-term care

Cory Hurley
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CORNER BROOK — Clarence Rice says the bed shortage at Western Memorial Regional Hospital is the result of shortsightedness and he does not see anything being done about it.

The Corner Brook man has been participating in the various public meetings regarding the plans for a new hospital that’s been put on hold as the particular services to be offered there are debated.

Rice has been in and out of hospital in the past due to heart problems. He finds himself front and centre again as his mother-in-law, Alice Hinks, was transferred from acute care at Western Memorial — where she was awaiting long-term care placement for more than a year — to the Bay St. George Long-Term Care in Stephenville Crossing to free up beds for the number of surgical and emergency patients coming into the regional hospital.

“To say there are no alternatives is what bothers me,” he said. “With a place eight years into announcement, and the target date for the hospital seems to be somewhere around 2022, what in the name of Christ are they going to do between now and 2022 with the people who are occupying the acute-care beds as long-term care patients?"

Rice said there appears to be no plan, other than more long-term care beds will be added within the new hospital. Meanwhile, there are always more added to the wait list, he said.

“I’ll be one of those pretty soon,” he said. “Where in the next eight years are people going to go?”

He wonders if it is going to become more of a problem for people scheduled for surgeries and admitted for emergencies to find a bed.

He said the long-term care facility in Corner Brook was built and filled to capacity immediately. In the meantime, the former Interfaith Home and O’Connell Centre was closed. While the Interfaith Home has been redeveloped, Rice said the O’Connell Centre remains vacant.

“If there is going to be a solution, they have to start utilizing what is available to them,” he said. “If they are going to be saving money by keeping the O’Connell Centre closed and they are going to be preventing people from getting into hospitals for surgeries, it’s time for them to spend a few dollars, furnish the place, and put people into it.”

Meanwhile, the fifth floor of the hospital is only being partially used for patients now and the sixth floor is not at all. These floors were utilized for dementia and long-term care patients prior to the opening of the long-term care centre in Corner Brook.

“The shortage is being created by indecision and inappropriate decisions,” Rice said.

He also said patients in need of long-term care are being transferred throughout the entire region.

“It seems to me like they are trying to force people to die,” he said.

Rice criticized the government decision to not include a PET scanner and radiology centre for the regional hospital. He does not agree with the estimates of about 170 people per year from the western region who would need it.

He said the expenses incurred by a person who has to travel for medical reasons are crippling.

“(Government) has something against the west coast, against the region,” he said. “They are not prepared to provide the services that they know are required, and would rather have those families incur the expense and suffering of having to go to St. John’s.”

Organizations: O’Connell Centre, Western Memorial Regional Hospital

Geographic location: Corner Brook

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Recent comments

  • elaine chubbs
    January 17, 2014 - 18:44

    I couldn't have said it any better myself.

  • J.M. Wells
    January 17, 2014 - 11:55

    I agree that there could be more beds for long term care if the O'Connell Centre were opened for that reason, then more beds for surgery and more work for all the staff that are on a call-in list, even the Government just took the cost of social service patients having to be sent for radiation it would easily pay for the services to be provided in Corner Brook , besides all those who have to cover the expenses themselves. I am one of those who have had to do this for numerous times.

  • Ruby Baldwin
    January 17, 2014 - 11:00

    I left this same message on the Mayors facebook page also about "they need to Reopen the O’Connell Centre again" last Friday after my sister was transported to the same facility in Stephenville Crossing. I have faith he will do his Best in seeing it does reopen and I realize he is not the Only person who makes this decision They told me 30 patients were being transported and my sister was the first to be coming back and that she will be there for two days. It`s been 7 days now and this is really getting Frustrating to say the least. You can`t get Legal Aid for Guardianship of an innocent person who has gotten ill at the young age of 54, But you can get it for the biggest Criminals out there who break the laws over and over again. Something has got to be done and done Soon !

  • Nicole
    January 17, 2014 - 09:34

    I have to agree 100%! there are plenty of staff to maintain the O'Connell Center.

  • Health Care Professional
    January 17, 2014 - 09:05

    I agree either re-open the O'Connell Centre or another area in the hospital . It seems they are making more and more offices for everyone at the hospital, anyone who has a position has an office. They are continually making space for patients wherever they can and it is not good for sick people. Yes they should even open up the 6th floor in the hospital it was used for patients for many years, and if it takes some renovating it will be worth it for the care of patients, particularly patients waiting to go to Long Term Care. It is time the Government take care of our aging population.