Barry proposes cancer-specific treatment facility

Chris Quigley
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Progressive Conservative leadership hopeful Bill Barry, back, right, met with members of the Western Region Hospital Action committee Monday, March 31, 2014 at the Greenwood Inn and Suites.

Health care facilities need to be where the majority of people live.

Newfoundland and Labrador Progressive Conservative party leadership hopeful Bill Barry stressed that point repeatedly Monday night during a meeting with members of the Western Region Hospital Action Committee at the Greenwood Inn and Suites.

“That certainly means St. John’s,” said Barry. “But it certainly means Corner Brook too.

“The idea that everybody on the island of Newfoundland would have to go to St. John’s to get (cancer treatment) is preposterous.”

But Barry believes it’s time to think outside the box and make choices that would get the most out of the available money. Instead of building a new hospital for $600 million and abandoning the current building, Barry proposed a scenario where Western Memorial Regional Hospital received upgrades and expansion, while a cancer treatment facility is constructed on the site where the new hospital is supposed to be built.

“What if we said we’re going to build the best cancer treatment facility in Eastern Canada in Corner Brook?,” he asked. “What if we said we maybe don’t have to spend $600 million, maybe we spent $200 million on just the cancer centre?”

“(The current hospital) needs upgrading, but does it need to be destroyed? Does it need to be turned over to somebody else to have a benefit?,” he added. “Maybe we can have our cake and eat it too.”

According to Barry, there have been health care facilities built all over the island that never should have been constructed because they’re capital infrastructure, where it costs money to build them and costs money to keep them going.

“And they’re not good health care,” he said. “You can’t get doctors to go to them, you can’t get nurses to go to them.”

It’s just one example he cited of this province’s historic tendency to spend sloppily, a trend that he believes must stop. He said he could pick out 50 different pages of things that shouldn’t be going on in the 452-page provincial budget.

“Where do you slice off the B.S. and do the real things you’ve got to do?,” he asked. “I can read the words “grants” and “subsidy” on 50 pages that count up to hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

“I wouldn’t have a God damn one of that in there as long as we didn’t have a hospital — it’s about priorities,” he said. “What’s a priority? Health care in Corner Brook, this region ... having a cancer treatment centre. That’s a priority.”

A truly state-of-the-art cancer treatment centre could even be viewed as a business opportunity for the area, he said.

“Do you know how many people would come here to get looked after?,” he said. “The land we’ve got up there, one of the most beautiful spots in the world ... take that land and put the right facilities around it. I’m just thinking about all the things you see in other parts of the world.

“You probably wouldn’t have to spend $600 million to do that.”

He said the facility could even offer non-traditional cancer treatment options like homeopathic medicine.

“For people that would like to exercise a different option than having all of their cells fried,” he said.

Though he said the current hospital building needs improvements, in part because it’s not being taken care of anymore, the structure is sound. It would be possible, he said, to make the existing facility work, with technological upgrades and expansion of the parking lot and outpatients area, in particular.

“If someone told me we’re going to tear down Western Memorial, I’d say, ‘Not a good answer,’ because I don’t see destroying one facility to spend money on building another one.”

This approach, he said, would make more common sense than constructing an entirely new hospital with a cancer treatment facility added on in the final stages.

“Cancer is such a huge issue, you attract really talented people to a facility with some of the best gear money can buy,” he said. “If you actually build a hospital, and at the end of it you put a half-assed facility, you’ll have a half-assed doctor here.”

Organizations: Western Region Hospital Action Committee, Greenwood Inn, Western Memorial Regional Hospital

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Island of Newfoundland, Eastern Canada

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Recent comments

  • Artie
    April 01, 2014 - 17:12

    Mr. Barry needs to choose his words much more carefully and be cautious of what he is really saying. He is suggesting that we take an old decrepit building and restore it. (twice the cost), and suggesting we dig up the graves and move them to mount Patricia because there is no parking and we could build an annex to the hospital on holy ground. He also goes on to say that if people do not like it, we can appropriate it cause the government can do that. In other words Mr. Barry is saying too bad Corner Brook, if you do not like something, I will do it anyway. I seriously doubt that he will win this race, but if he does and has any chance of becoming our next premier, I think I will have no choice but to move and never come back. Make no wonder mainland people think Newfoundlanders are stupid. Look at our spokesman.

  • Lloyd Pretty
    April 01, 2014 - 15:32

    Yes... I'm all for that Mr Barry...a much different approach but I think a sensible one. I spend a small fortune on traveling to St John's for treatment where there should be a cancer center here on the west coast.

  • $200m
    April 01, 2014 - 12:51

    It will costs much more than $200 million for just a cancer centre. That won't cover the cost of the equipment. Do your homework.

  • Frankly
    April 01, 2014 - 10:38

    Barry you are NUTTY. Give up a state of the art hospital for a old delabitated refurbished hospital. We want a new hospital and the radiation unit. Whats wrong with that? I believe if you became leader and premier then we all in trouble with your frugal stingy Harper ways... One Harper in this country is enough.

  • LD Walsh
    April 01, 2014 - 09:50

    Mr. Barry has obviously not spent much time at the current WMRH. I have, and I would say that it needs to eventually be torn down. The property itself is not big enough for expansion unless you start digging up the bodies held in the townsite cemetary. Also, how much asbestos and other materials make up the current hospital structure? There is not even enough room on the current WMRH site to safely place a picnic tabl.e

  • Johnny
    April 01, 2014 - 09:16

    Why don't the people of western NL deserve a new hospital? All other hospitals across remote NL are significantly newer and service less people. Do you realize the volume that goes through this facility?

  • Stick to Fishing
    April 01, 2014 - 09:10

    Coming from someone who travels out of the Province for health care Bill should spend time in our Hospital. The building is falling apart. Band-Aid solutions are not the answer.

  • Hidden Agenda
    April 01, 2014 - 08:22

    Barry is proposing a for Profit treatment center. It's the only way this could work. Amazing that he stated a new hospital will only attract "half-assed doctor(s)."

  • hmmmm...
    April 01, 2014 - 07:54

    much of this makes a lot of sense...but too much "plain speaking" perhaps?

  • Corner Brooker
    April 01, 2014 - 06:11

    I also believe that along with the new hospital, the old WMRH should be utilized for medical needs. Whether it be as an updated long term care facility, along with medical offices and/or cancer treatment( with radiation units), the old hospital definitely needs repairs & updates, desperately. BYW, you should also invest in someone to critique your message.....I am in your view, one of those who HAD to have their cells fried & don't need to be labelled as such. I do like some of your political views though.