Ayer’s Cliff clinic gains mo­men­tum

Stanstead Journal - - NEWS BRIEFS - Spe­cial col­lab­o­ra­tion Dian Co­hen

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.”

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