SOURIS — Changes in rural health care services are expected to unleash a public backlash here as officials wonder if government is really planning to reduce the local hospital here down to nothing but a provincial manor.
“We have some pretty upset people up here and depending on how serious this will affect this region will determine how much backlash,’’ Souris Mayor David MacDonald said Wednesday.
“We’re not quite sure of all the details just yet, but if it means shutting down admissions and moving doctors away….that’s bad.”
The province offered some good news — that dialysis treatment it planned to close here — will now be retained; but that was a small victory in the face of possible hospital collapse.
“I’m smiling on one side of my face and scowling on the other,’’ said MacDonald. “I don’t have all the details, but don’t like what I’m seeing.”
The province announced Tuesday rural health care changes that would see O’Leary, Tyne Valley and Souris hospitals no longer offer acute care services. Health Minister Doug Currie said changes are necessary in order to meet the evolving health needs of an aging population.
The minister said the changes will realign services so community hospitals support the larger Prince County and Queen Elizabeth hospitals in Summerside and Charlottetown.
Alternate level of care (ALC) will be now be provided at the O’Leary and Souris hospitals replacing acute care beds. However, officials are not sure if that means the removal of doctors, nurses and closing pharmacies.
“I’m smiling on one side of my face and scowling on the other,’’ - Souris Mayor David MacDonald
“It would appear things are moving towards turning our hospital into a manor,’’ said Steve Cheverie, chair of the North East Community Alliance, which was formed over a year ago to stop rural decline.
“I’m not going to criticize until I know more, but we can’t lose different levels of staff and move everything to Charlottetown.”
If admissions are closed, officials say it would mean the reduction and relocation of doctors and nurses. As well, it would threaten x-ray and lab services.
Mayor MacDonald said he wasn’t going to bother calling hospital administrator Terry Campbell for details until Thursday “since his phone must be ringing off the hook”.
Facebook postings are suggesting nurses will lose jobs and be forced to move out of the community.
“If we lose our doctors, we lose our pharmacies and we just have a young couple that opened a new pharmacy in the town,’’ said the mayor.
“The health minister said he would ensure the people are part of the decision making….well he sure hasn’t done that.”