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Bigger isn't always better


The estimates are that at least 500 people from Lewisporte and the surrounding communities turned out for the public protest last Thursday against the removal of x-ray and laboratory analysis services from the Lewisporte Laboratory and X-Ray Clinic. It was with a sense of shock that residents, doctors and community leaders reacted to the press release on Aug. 31 from the Department of Health and Community Services outlining the plan to close these services in Lewisporte. Flower's Cove was also hit with the same news, as well as having their health centre changed to operate on a 12-hour basis.

The estimates are that at least 500 people from Lewisporte and the surrounding communities turned out for the public protest last Thursday against the removal of x-ray and laboratory analysis services from the Lewisporte Laboratory and X-Ray Clinic.

It was with a sense of shock that residents, doctors and community leaders reacted to the press release on Aug. 31 from the Department of Health and Community Services outlining the plan to close these services in Lewisporte. Flower's Cove was also hit with the same news, as well as having their health centre changed to operate on a 12-hour basis.

The shock quickly translated into outrage as everyone was left to wonder how this decision was announced now, just weeks after Health and Community Services Minister Paul Oram visited Lewisporte to provide details of the redevelopment of North Haven Manor. While he did allude to the fact that laboratories and x-ray services in this province were going to be examined and changes would likely come from what was contained in the Cameron Report, no one was prepared for the axe when it fell.

The outrage turned into action as a petition and public rally were immediately arranged. Word spread and on Thursday the people let it be known that this decision is not the right decision for them.

Looking out over the gathering of residents of this region of every age and seeing the determination in their faces, you couldn't help but feel an immense pride for these people who are not willing to take this decision that was made without their input. It was an emotional afternoon as you could feel the frustration coming from the gathering. The eloquent speakers who further stirred up the strength of the people to fight for the clinic to be maintained in Lewisporte are to be commended for putting to words the feelings of those gathered.

Yes, the protest was impressive, but immediately following were the sentiments of some people wondering whether or not it was enough to make a difference and change the wheels of government from this current path. Hopefully it is enough, but if it's not, people need to be prepared to show that same sort of united front again. That may not necessarily come through a protest, but as everyone was encouraged to do so at the protest, it could come through other means such as signing the petition and telling government yourself why you have taken the position you have on this issue.

Mr. Oram told The Pilot that it was time to move services like x-ray and laboratory analysis from Lewisporte and Flower's Cove to a "bigger centre". Moves to bigger centres years ago was also known as resettlement. While at that time it was whole communities that were relocated, removing this service may just as well prove to have as detrimental an impact to our communities. Who wants to move to a community where health care services are being removed?

For that matter, who wants to stay? Indications from some physicians in Lewisporte is that the idea of having a practice in Lewisporte is less than ideal without the x-ray and blood analysis services. While the situation locally may not be perfect when it comes to everyone being able to find a family doctor, it seems that this area is more fortunate than most lately in being able to attract and retain doctors. To have the removal of services pose the possibility that any of our valued physicians leave should be enough to prompt the government to review their decision. If that's not enough, what about the 500 person strong protest? Protests like this don't happen every day in this province. The people here want to be heard; need to be heard, and from the show of determination, they will be heard.

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