Byrnes calls for radiation/oncology unit in new Corner Brook hospital

Frank Gale fgale@thewesternstar.com
Published on February 8, 2014
The site of the new Corner Brook hospital is shown in this undated photo.
— Star file photo

The Bay St. George Chamber of Commerce has written Health Minister Susan Sullivan regarding plans for the new regional hospital in Corner Brook.

Bob Byrnes, president, said he and members of the chamber executive were disappointed in the minister’s response to comments made by radiologist Dr. Bob Cook regarding the inclusion of a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanner for the new hospital.

He said government’s decision on this was short sighted and he feels by the time the new hospital is operational a PET scanner will be standard equipment for clinics, let alone regional hospitals.

Byrnes said technology is moving at such a rapid pace that advances in medical services require that governments be proactive in any long range planning.

He feels in this instance the construction of a new regional facility is an excellent opportunity for the government to respond to the latest advances in medicine.

He said Minister Sullivan should be more cognizant of the needs of all residents of the province and not just those east of the overpass. For many people on the west coast requiring health care treatment, visits to St John’s are expensive and require long waits of up to a year to see specialists.

Byrnes said the new regional hospital should come with the latest technology available to better serve the residents on this side of the island.

“The same arguments being used today regarding the PET scan machine were also used to counter the advocates for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) in the past,” he said.

Byrnes said he is asking the minister to listen to front line staff in health care because if this province is to attract and retain the best physicians and staff, it must keep abreast of the rapidly changing technology.

Right now anyone needing radiation treatment for cancer has to go to St. John’s, yet there are three nuclear medicine technicians at Western Memorial Regional Hospital in Corner Brook right now and one of them is already trained to do PET scanning.

“I really have concerns about where the minister is getting her information. We (residents) desperately need a radiation/oncology unit based here on the west coast of Newfoundland,” Byrnes said.