Reliving our past
Committee recommends new clinic: Cottage Hospital Plan Vetoed This article was originally published in the Sept 18th, 1985 edition of The Southern Gazette.
The Grand Bank Hospital Preservation Committee has recommended to council that the Town accept the proposal from the provincial Department of Health to close the Cottage Hospital there and build a new medical clinic adjacent to the Blue Crest Senior Citizens Home.
The Committee met with council last week to outline its reasons for the recommendation. However, the council did not offer any official support or sanction of the recommendation but did approve a motion to allow the Committee to continue negotiations with Government for improved medical services in the Town.
Although the town council have set up the Committee as an arm of council with Mayor Max Snook as chairman, Mayor Snook said he did not support the recommendation of the Committee pointing out there was nothing concrete yet on the Department of Health’s proposal. He said the proposal was just an initial one adding “I’m not saying it won’t come. It’s difficult accepting though, without being written down.”
The council was disturbed at the Committee’s almost total acceptance of the verbal suggestions from Deputy Health Minister Ambrose Hearn during a meeting in July. Committee member Frank Crews, also chairman of the Board of Directors of the Blue Crest Home, acting as spokesperson for the committee read a letter outlining its stand to council.
Mr. Crews pointed out that initially the Committee was asked to prepare a a brief to present to the Government in support of its original stand to have the Cottage Hospital remain as is and even upgraded. The brief was a reaction to the Government’s decision to build a Burin Peninsula regional hospital in Burin with indications hospitals at Grand Bank and St. Lawrence would be closed or at best downgraded in their services offered.
The Committee’s brief to the Department of Health offered several alternatives to possible closure. Crews said the meeting with Mr. Hearn resulted in a proposal that was “very similar” to the requests in the Committee’s brief.
The Department’s proposal called for a new medical clinic to be built near the Blue Crest Home to service the needs of outpatients; laboratory and x-ray facilities be placed in the clinic; an equipped emergency room be part of the new facility; the ambulance service remain intact attached to the new clinic; twenty beds be provided for chronic care elderly people and the present hospital be closed.
Also included are palliative care rooms for the terminally ill and the maintaining of a delivery room to allow for babies to be born in their own home area. As well, a day care and respite care program is included in the program for the elderly which is similar to the Committee’s request for a ‘community support program’ for senior citizens.
In addition to having the new clinic attached to the Seniors Home, the Department wants the present Blue Crest Home’s Board of Directors to form the nucleus of a Board to oversee the new facility. It reasons the present Board already had area representation and the Committee feels this could easily be expanded to take in all the area serviced by the Hospital from Garnish to Lamaline.
The Board of Directors of the Blue Crest Home has already informed the Department of its acceptance of the proposed new arrangement.
Hearn stated a Burin Peninsula physiotherapist and dietitian, based in Burin in specialist practice, could use the new clinic when visiting the Grand Bank area.
The Committee has been told by Hearn there will be few job losses in Burin Peninsula hospitals with present employees given first chance at any new jobs when the new regional facility comes on stream next year. Crews stated his fellow members believe “the emphasis should be placed on better medical services for the area and not the emotional issue of the hospital closure.”
He noted the Department is open to dialogue on the proposal and it offers the Town an important say in what services the clinic will provide local residents. The Committee feels, if the proposal is refused, the Department will move on its own and the result will likely be downgraded medical services for the area with Burin the center of all new services.
Doctor Allister Paul, a Committee member, said if the hospital is left to remain open in Grand Bank the only future he could see was a natural downgrading of the services provided.
He said patients will bypass local health services and go to where they believe there are better, more modern facilities for health care...Burin. The downgrading of services and a lost opportunity was the Committee’s reaction to a suggestion from council that a hold be put on the clinic while a five-year assessment period was underway at the Cottage Hospital to determine the effect of the new Burin Hospital. Committee members said waiting five years would only mean improved services would never be offered with Government believing the community was able to make due with what it already had.
Councillors Bill Burfitt and Newman Bartlett voiced the concern of most councillors that if what is proposed by the Department comes true it will mean better medical services but pointed out “there’s nothing definite yet...it’s just a thought and nothing else right now.”
The Province’s Royal Commission on Health Care Costs, according to Blue Crest Home Administrator Rueben Ralph, recommended closing all Cottage Hospitals in the Province in favour of medical clinics. It also saw the removal of control of senior citizens homes from the Department of Social Services to the Department of Health resulting in one health care Board of Directors governing clinics and homes in a particular area.
The Blue Crest Home has been looking for Government funding in recent years to increase its chronic care beds to accommodate the growing need, Doctor Paul noted medical services were showing “a natural progression to ambulatory care for the elderly” . Older people require much longer stays in hospital than young people.
The Committee pointed out Grand Bank has a large elderly population and the council expressed a concern the twenty additional beds proposed would all go to chronic care rather than acute care with a clinic in place. Ralph said this would not be the case, even with the Blue Crest Board overseeing the clinic, stating the Province has set down a policy that a minimum number of beds would have to be kept open for acute care. Hearn had recommended that at least six of the twenty proposed would be for acute care patients. Even though the council had doubts about whole heartedly supporting the recommendation, it asked the Commit-tee to continue meeting with Department of Health officials to get in writing what it considered the best possible medical services for Grand Bank. Mr. Crews said he could understand the councillors’ doubts but stated “it comes back to whether we want control of our medical services within our community.
Blue Crest Senior Citizens Home in Grand Bank/
Grand Bank Cottage Hospital.