Fears for Carbonear Hospital get airing at Joint Council

By Mark Squibb/February 10, 2022

During the most recent Conception Bay North joint council meeting, Carbonear councilor Chris O’ Grady addressed concerns the coming Health Accord recommendations may limit the services offered at Carbonear General Hospital.

“We’re anxiously awaiting the release of the Health Accord and we weren’t obviously too happy with some things that were in the earlier draft concerning our area,” O’Grady admitted. “They were proposing some changes to the status of the Carbonear Hospital, and we’ve fought a good fight with the Town of Carbonear and surrounding towns and concerned citizens and I’m confident that we’ve had success, but I guess we’ll have to see what’s in the final report.”

Concerns were raised back in August of 2021 when a preliminary report suggested the province’s hospitals should be divided into three categories with Carbonear General being classified as a community hospital, rather than a regional one, a move which could lead to a loss of services.

Councillors were aghast at the thought of folks having to drive – or arrange a ride if they don’t drive themselves— into St. John’s for services that had formerly been offered in Carbonear.

“We don’t like to hear in these areas that things are being moved to the city, because we all know how overwhelmed the city hospitals are, and we certainly feel we have a lot to offer,” said O’Grady.

Also attending the joint council meeting were members of the PC caucus, including Harbour Main MHA and Deputy Opposition House Leader Helen Conway Ottenheimer, Cape St. Francis MHA Jodey Wall, and Stephenville – Port au Port MHA Tony Wakeham.

O’Grady put the question to Wakeham, former CEO of Labrador-Grenfell Health Authority.

Wakeham said the PC caucus has met with the Health Accord’s co-chairs Dr. Patrick Parfrey and Sister Elizabeth Davis.

“When we talk about health reform, you can’t talk about what you’re going to cut first,” said Wakeham. “You should be talking about what you’re going to fix, and how you fix it. And right now, in our province, we all have issues around primary care providers,” said Wakeham.

He added the PC caucus remains anxious to see what recommendations will be made in the report.

“I believe that health care will require an investment of some kind,” Wakeham said. “It we’re truly going to change the model, and do things, and make things different, and establish all these teams, there’s a significant mount of infrastructure that needs to be put in place.”

He added the focus should be on providing transportation and primary care first, and work to maximise use of current facilities.

Earlier in the meeting, Wakeham, who grew up in Placentia, heaped praised upon Carbonear General.

“I’ll tell you a personal story that involves my dad, who was on blood thinners, and wound up having a bleed and being rushed to the hospital,” said Wakeham. “Now, he wasn’t rushed to St. John’s, or Placentia, he was rushed to Carbonear Hospital. And I had a lot of relatives in St. John’s calling me on the west coast and saying, ‘What’s dad doing in Carbonear, he should be in St. Johns?’ Well, let me tell you, my dad got better treatment in Carbonear Hospital then he could have gotten anywhere. They did everything for him, kept him there for a week. For me, the value of regional hospitals, is so important … Those regional hospitals are very, very important, and Carbonear is one of the best. I can’t say enough about it.”

The final report is expected to be released this month.

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