© Star photo by Geraldine Brophy
About 75 people attended a public meeting on the proposed new regional hospital in Corner Brook Tuesday put off by Liberal Opposition members and held at the Greenwood Inn and Suites.
A commitment from the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador to put a radiation unit in the new hospital in Corner Brook was met with a loud round of applause Tuesday night.
About 75 people, many of them Liberal supporters, attended a meeting at the Greenwood Inn and Suites hosted by the Opposition Caucus members on the proposed new hospital.
After taking those gathered through the results of a study conducted by the party over the last three months Liberal Leader Dwight Ball said, “I needed to be sure before I came back to the people in this room that we came back with evidence.”
Ball was referring to a statement he made during a January meeting at the hotel held by the West Coast Health Care Action Committee. During that event, Ball committed to putting a PET scanner in the new hospital if the Liberals form the next government, but couldn’t say the same on the radiation unit until the party took a closer look at the issue.
“We did our research, we’ve taken the time to do it,” he said. “The evidence is there to support it and, as the official Opposition, we’re committed to delivering radiation services to Western Memorial Hospital.”
Before getting to that conclusion Ball went through the results of the study, which countered all of the PC government’s reasons for saying no to putting the service on the west coast.
From the unproven model of a single unit, to the need to be located at a tertiary care centre, the challenges of recruitment and retention and finally the numbers, Ball presented information that showed none of those reasons should prevent a unit from being located here.
“If we were here making this decision on emotion well all of us in the room, all of us in the province, would do this,” said Ball following the meeting. “But you have to base it on evidence and that’s what we’ve been able to do over the last three months.”
Ball said when you look at the infrastructure cost, the upfront cost, on putting in a radiation unit it’s not extremely high, “Yet it’s extremely beneficial to the people who need the service.”
He said he doesn’t see this as an election issue as the planning for a radiation unit has to start now and made a part of the plan for the new hospital.
“I know one thing, it’s not finished yet,” he said of the design plan for the facility. “So now is the time to do it.”
Meanwhile, Gerald Parsons, co-chair of the action committee, is hoping the announcement by the Liberals will help as the committee prepares to hold its own meeting Thursday night.
“At least now it’s out there that they’re willing to do it if they form the next government,” he said.
Parsons said the research the Liberals presented is similar to what the committee has found and, in some cases, was more in depth.
But the end result was the same.
“We knew we could support the radiation unit here in Corner Brook,” he said. “This can’t die now. This is not done. This is just a commitment. We need to keep the pressure on whoever forms the next government to make sure this is done.”
Thursday’s meeting is scheduled to get underway at the Pepsi Centre at 6:30 p.m.