Marshall says campus-like approach will allow for expansion
© Gary Kean
Liberal Commons member for Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte Gerry Byrne delivers his annual address to the Rotary Club of Corner Brook on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014.
CORNER BROOK — Gerry Byrne says it is important for everyone who has concerns about the new regional hospital planned for Corner Brook to make their voices heard right now.
The Liberal Commons member for Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte spoke about the provincial government’s plan for the new facility during his annual address to the Rotary Club of Corner Brook Thursday.
Byrne said the province should be able to afford a better hospital than the one in the works since, thanks to a federal loan guarantee, it can now use debt financing for the costly Muskrat Falls project.
“Because debt financing is now available, there should be a freeing up of current account revenues to be able to spend on current account projects,” said Byrne.
The residents of the western region, for whom the hospital will be built, need to speak their minds in order for the hospital to be all that they want it to be, urged Byrne.
“It is totally unacceptable to just simply say that cost won’t allow us to plan for the future,” said Byrne. “It’s simply unacceptable to say that Corner Brook does not need a fully functioning diagnostic technology department. It is totally irresponsible to say the number of acute care beds should be either maintained at the status quo or reduced in the new hospital. Demand is going to rise.”
Byrne noted how, when Western Memorial Regional Hospital needed a new MRI machine back in the mid-1990s, the hospital had to be redesigned and renovated just to be able to house it.
With PET scanners now the emerging tool in diagnostic imaging technology, Byrne said it will only be a matter of time before the new hospital will have to have one too.
“Not to design the new facility to be able to accommodate a PET scanner means, in due time, we are going to have to incur double costs again to redesign the facility to be able to hold a PET scanner,” said Byrne. “It is going to come, one way or the other. It is the future.”
Finance Minister Tom Marshall, who is the Tory legislature member for Humber East, said there may not be PET scanner in the works for the hospital at the moment, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be such equipment included later.
Marshall said the campus-style approach to the new hospital should allow for such expansion when the time comes.
“There is a lot of room at that site to build it,” said Marshall, referring to the hospital’s location at the top of Wheeler’s Road and Cpl. Pinksen Memorial Drive.
“There will be a campus of buildings that are all connected. I don’t see why we wouldn’t be able to add on other buildings when needed.”
Byrne said people have to insist they have a right to every service government can afford to provide them right now. The MP said he will be attending a public meeting being organized for the Greenwood Inn and Suites in Corner Brook on the evening of Jan. 8 to discuss the new hospital plans.
Byrne hoped to see some of the Rotarians attending the public meeting. He urged anyone else who concerned about what the hospital will feature when it is built to also go.
“We desperately need a new hospital that houses the capacity, the equipment and the people we need to be able to meet our current and future health-care needs,” said Byrne. “Any further delay in planning this facility, quite frankly, is going to put all of our well being, our standard of living, in jeopardy.”