Rural Healthcare Broken by King Government
The closure of the Collaborative Emergency Centre (CEC) at Western Hospital until at least September 15, with no reassurance of its reopening is the latest failure of the King government to provide necessary health services to rural Islanders.
In February this year, a West Prince man died while waiting for more than an hour for an ambulance. The King government response was to renew its contract with the private company responsible to deliver the service without properly addressing the EMS staffing issue. Island EMS personnel are highly skilled and revered by Islanders, but understaffing and inadequate placement of units to cover the province has put Islanders at risk, particularly in rural areas.
The downgrading of rural health care accelerated with the Ghiz/MacLauchlan governments’ closure of the Community Hospital in O’Leary, restricted ER service hours at Western Hospital, and replacement of physician in-patient rounds with expensive tele-rounds by off-shore physicians, all due to the failure to recruit needed doctors over the past several years.
Now the King government has closed the Collaborative Emergency Centre at Alberton, citing low night-time usage. With no walk-in clinic in West Prince, many will have to drive an hour or more to receive after-hours medical care. The frequent closures of the ER and CEC at the Western Hospital, breaching access to out-patient care, may be related to decreasing CEC usage.
Closure of the CEC has implications for provision of acute care services at Western Hospital. With no available physician or EMS personnel on site during the night, in-patients requiring emergency care will have to be transferred to Prince County Hospital in Summerside, IF an ambulance is available.
Premier Dennis King must come clean with the people of West Prince. Is he going to restore emergency services at the Western Hospital, or will he continue to ignore the needs of rural Islanders until the area’s only hospital is closed?
Michelle Neill, Leader
Island New Democrats
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