Mixed reactions

Cory Hurley
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Municipal politicians voice thoughts about latest on new hospital

Great Humber Joint Council chair Roger Barrett, mayor of Reidville, speaks at the monthly meeting held Saturday, March 29, 2014 in Irishtown-Summerside.

The reaction throughout western Newfoundland pertaining to government’s response to the lobbying for a radiation unit and PET scanner in the new hospital is varied.

At Great Humber Joint Council Saturday in Irishtown-Summerside, the latest news from Premier Tom Marshall was met with praise, skepticism, questions and concerns.

The study into safe radiation services delivery and the inclusion of a room to accommodate a PET scanner, if it is determined to be required, is being recognized as a great step by some municipal representatives. Others believe the $500,000 study to be a waste of money.

The joint council was asked — and gave — its support to the Western Regional Hospital Action Committee in its fight for a radiation unit and a PET scanner to be installed in the new regional hospital.

Some, including chair Roger Barrett, mayor of Reidville, feel their efforts would be best put into lobbying for the radiation unit. Some appear not completely sold on the requirement of another PET scanner in the province and that the radiation unit carries the greatest impact and significance for people on this side of the province.

Barrett, a cancer survivor himself, said he depleted his retirement funds in expenses to undergo radiation treatment. He is skeptical of the study. He said the money for such a study would be best put toward the equipment itself or to the recruitment and retention of the medical professionals needed to operate it.

“This time next year, they will do another study on the results of this study,” he said.

He is looking for more of a commitment from government.

“If this hospital is eight years from being ready, they need to commit to putting the radiation unit here and spend the next years making sure they have the people here to operate it,” he said. “If they can’t manage that, they lack the foresight to get this done.”

Massey Drive Coun. Holly Walsh said the council should lobby for both a radiation unit and a PET scanner. She is optimistic with respect to the latest news from Marshall.

“I think he really listened to what we had talked about at that meeting with (Health) Minister (Susan) Sullivan,” she said. “That meeting was initially no, no, no, no, no ... I get the feeling from Premier Marshall now that is not the case, that they are going to do what they need to do.”

There was some concern about bringing a unit to western Newfoundland that would eventually prove to be underutilized or not be able to attract the health care professionals to operate it.

Pasadena Mayor Otto Goulding said it is important for him to separate the emotional side of cancer, and its impacts on families, from the practicality of the unit and equipment. He believes this study will do just that and lead to the determination of what is best.

Meanwhile, Gerald Parsons, co-chair of the action committee, was pleased to hear of the support from joint council.

Parsons does not understand the purpose of further studying whether a radiation unit is needed. He feels the case has already been proven for it.

He does have concerns with delaying the process from a recruitment standpoint.

“Who is going to come here, if it is not put here first?” Parsons said.



Organizations: Great Humber Joint Council, Western Regional Hospital Action Committee

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Reidville, Pasadena

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Recent comments

  • Edward Smith
    March 31, 2014 - 23:34

    Good God, don't tell me the new hospital does not already have plans for a PET scanner and radiation unit? Doesn't the 'grey tsunami' hit western Nfld in about 5 years time as more baby boomers hit age 65? Demand for health services will increase significantly as a result. Doesn't the new hospital in western Nfld serve St. Anthony to Port-aux-Basques to Deer Lake? Would it not be considered as basic equipment for a new hospital to have a radiation and PET scanner? Is there no one fighting for western Nfld.? We can't ask seniors to travel over 600 km to St. John's in all kinds of weather for radiation treatments plus pay food, accommodation and other living expenses while there. No wonder many seniors are packing up and following their married childrn to PEI, NB and NS. Why stay in Corner Brook? ......And God help you if you are senior whose partner has passed away, leaving you to pay for all your health care travel costs to get radiation..... Geez... aren't becoming another third world country in western Nfld? What if people in St. John's had to travel to Corner Brook for radiation? How long would outraged townies have to wait before things changed? But the provincial govt still looks upon people in western Nfld as hillbillies...

  • wp
    March 31, 2014 - 18:38

    I agree. How many studies and plans is this now with regards to the new hospital? The cost of all these studies and planning could have gone a long way into the hospital construction. Mr. Marshall missed the boat here. This hospital should have been started a long time ago and have included everything necessary to avoid patients travelling to the east coast for treatments. This is becoming rediculous.

  • Linda Collier
    March 31, 2014 - 13:31

    It stands to reason that we have a radiation unit on the west coast. Almost every family in the area has been touched by cancer, including myself and my husband. It costs a fortune to have to travel to and live in St. John's for a minimum of six weeks, not to mention the emotional trauma of being away from family and friends - vital support you really need when you are undergoing treatment for cancer.

  • John
    March 31, 2014 - 12:12

    My opinion is the likelihood of getting a pet scanner and radiation unit is somewhat lower. The government under Premier Tom Marshall now has decided to throw money at studies to get some distance from this political problem. Tom Marshall will likely escape having to make the decision on this as he will be gone by summer and we will be back to dealing with Health minister Susan Sullivan, and we already know her thoughts. Studies are only meant to defer decision making. Seen this before. Thanks a lot Mr. Marshall. I for one will deal with this in the next election.