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 Southern Gazette - - EDITORIAL -

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.

FILE PHOTO

Blue Crest Se­nior Cit­i­zens Home in Grand Bank/

FILE PHOTO

Grand Bank Cot­tage Hos­pi­tal.

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