Seeking treatment in Corner Brook

Diane Crocker
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Area residents speak out about needs for new hospital

Twenty-six years ago, Colleen Pynn’s father-in-law was diagnosed with brain cancer and travelled to St. John’s for treatment.

Colleen Pynn speaks at a public meeting to discuss plans for the new hospital in Corner Brook Thursday at the Greenwood Inn and Suites.

Last year, his son, Pynn’s husband, was diagnosed with skin cancer and also had to travel to the capital for treatment.

Pynn, a Pasadena resident, was one of more than 200 people who attended a public meeting at the Greenwood Inn and Suites Thursday night to discuss the plans for the new hospital in Corner Brook.

The local health-care action committee organized the meeting to discuss concerns about delays in the hospital’s construction and a possible reduction in services.

Like many in the group, Pynn wants to see the new hospital offer radiation services, something the provincial government says won’t happen.

But that’s not good enough for Pynn.

“I’m tired of hearing people say there’s not enough need on the west coast for cancer patients,” said Pynn, who also lost an aunt to cancer last year and a good friend just Thursday morning.

“The reason we’re not getting any radiation treatment is the money St. John’s is going to lose from us.”

Pynn said it cost about $8,000 for her and her husband to travel to and stay in St. John’s for eight weeks of treatment. The couple was able to qualify for assistance from the provincial government, but that’s not the case for everyone.

She said people need to stand up and talk about what’s needed in Corner Brook while the hospital is in the planning stages.

“Nothing has changed in 25 years in this province for the west coast and nothing is going to change in the next 20 if people don’t do something about it.”

Protests planned

Pynn wasn’t the only one in the room to express those thoughts.

Corner Brook resident Ted Gillingham called for protests near the site of the future hospital to gauge what the people of Corner Brook and the region need.

Mike Quigley lives about a half hour outside the city and said he’s been bothered by what’s been happening in the last six years with the whittling down of the money available for the hospital, the size of the facility and the equipment.

“This facility, our regional hospital in Corner Brook, should be able to serve all of the west coast, all of Labrador,” said Quigley. “It could easily serve central, from Grand Falls-Windsor and all points west.”

He said the hospital has been dangled in front of people’s noses like a carrot.

“How long are we going to be insulted? How long are we going to let our intelligence be insulted by the government?”

Following the meeting, Israel Hann, chairman of the health-care action committee, said he wasn’t surprised by the things the people said or their desire for action.

In fact, he said the turnout and enthusiasm of the group has encouraged him to continue on.

“I was going to give it up, to be honest with you, but I’ll keep at it another while, give it another push.”

Health Minister Susan Sullivan is due to visit Corner Brook later this month and has already told the committee she is willing to meet with three of its representatives.

Hann said the committee will update people on that meeting and, as suggested Thursday night, there will be protests.

“We’re going to protest. We’re going to walk around that site up there and see how many people we can get out,” said Hann.

“Let the government know the numbers of people who are interested in having a new hospital. We want it built. We don’t want a dog track.”

The Western Star

Organizations: Greenwood Inn

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Pasadena, Labrador Western Star

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