Hospital closures draw wrath of Northside residents
On Sept. 23, residents of the Northside communities came together at the Cape Breton County exhibition grounds arena to voice concerns about the announced closures of the Northside General Hospital and New Waterford Consolidated Hospital.
The necessity for the meeting was due to the lack of information coming from Nova Scotia Health Minister Randy Delorey, Premier Stephen McNeil and the two Liberal MLAs here in Cape Breton - Geoff MacLellan and Derek Mombourquette.
The absence of all four of these Liberal politicians was quite noticeable considering the consequences this announcement will have on 20,000 residents on the Northside alone. To make an announcement of this magnitude and expect the communities to not be upset was insulting, but to walk out angry without taking questions or giving answers was shameful on them. They must have forgot that we pay them.
I must commend NDP MLA Tammy Martin and the three PC MLAs - Eddie Orrell, Keith Bain and Alfie McLeod - for clearing their Sunday schedule to be in attendance on Sept. 23. The politicians were not asked to speak because this was a community driven event and it was decided early on that it was the community that needed to be heard.
Over 400 people attended and more than 400 names were signed on a petition against any further loss of services on the Northside, including the emergency room. A slide show of residents putting questions to the premier and health minister will also be going out on social media and presented to the two MLAs whose ridings are affected by this announcement.
Our local doctors who spoke, Dr. Langley, Dr. Salah and Dr. Fraser, outlined the lack of information coming from the government and addressed the needs and concerns they have on doctor recruitment and patient care. They described the horrific conditions in emergency at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital (CBRH) and the wait times.
What will happen when 20,000 Northside residents and the residents of New Waterford need to go to the Regional? What about our paramedics who are continually short staffed and constantly needing to leave their zones to cover another, leaving one community without an ambulance?
Our three municipal councilllors who spoke, Clarence Prince, Earlene McMullin and Kendra Coombs, all agreed that as the grass root representatives of the affected communities they, too, are still in the dark as to what is happening since the announcement.
Then residents had an opportunity to put questions to the Liberal government, but there were no answers, only questions. Nobody in the communities were consulted by the Liberal government. Not one person or invited speaker indicated they had any input or discussion around the announcement or the go-forward plan with the government.
One lady who came to the microphone said it best.
She noted it was the residents of Cape Breton who raised money and paid for the Regional Hospital.
The closures of St. Rita’s and Sydney City Hospital prompted the need to build this hospital and it would be used as a specialized facility for the newly created CBRM at the time.
Not one thing in all the fundraising from all the Cape Breton communities that raised money to build the CBRH indicated our own community hospitals would close down and that our services would be lost. Remember we paid for that hospital.
The Northside isn’t going away until we secure all of the services we presently have.
Residents of New Waterford will get their say on Sunday, Oct. 14, at 2 p.m. at the Royal Canadian Legion. Gordon MacDonald