Ayer’s Cliff clinic gains momentum
More than 100 residents who live in or around Ayer’s Cliff voted unanimously for a grassroots committee of volunteers to continue their work to establish a medical health clinic in the village.
At a neighborhood meeting called to inform the public about the work the committee has done during the past year, the resounding show of support was accompanied by more than a dozen offers of volunteer help and several hundred dollars left for the organizers, even though no financial support was asked for. “I am overwhelmed by this response,” said Dian Cohen, President of the Grassroots Committee. “I’ll open a bank account for the clinic on Monday, and will be in touch with all the people who have left their email addresses, phone numbers or addresses.”
After a brief overview of what she called “the gap between where we are – no doctor, no clinic, no CLSC, no ambulance service – and where we want to be – several family doctors, the ability to do lab tests, several specialist services and a wellness facility,” M. Serge Audet moderated the lively bilingual meeting, fielding dozens of questions, comments and suggestions.
The enthusiasm of the group underscored the desperate need for health care services in this rural area. When asked, more than half the participants indicated they had no family doctor.
Many of the suggestions were how to get the word out to friends and neighbors who were not present. Most wanted to sign a petition on the spot. The Committee distributed an information form, asking residents what services they wanted, and whether they would support a Wellness Clinic while continuing to look for family physicians. An overwhelm- ing affirmative response.
The mayor of Ayer’s Cliff, Alec van Zuiden, the mayor of Hatley, Denis Ferland, and the Prefect of MRC Memphremagog and the mayor of Ste-Catherinede-Hatley, Jacques Demers, all spoke to the importance of the project, and the need to have townspeople supporting it. Said Mayor van Zuiden, “This project is not political – we want to work with everyone, including other municipalities and levels of government, to bring these services to a deserving population.”
The Grassroots Committee promised to communicate with every person present, “within weeks, not months”, recording their suggestions and enlarging the committee to accommodate their skills. “With this level of support, we are reinvigorated,” said Ms. Cohen, “and with the added number of people volunteering today, we should be able to move ahead quickly.”