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PET scanner issue just the latest in a line of health-care disappointments, says Keith Muise
The Liberal government may have reaffirmed its promise to put a PET scanner in the new regional acute-care hospital being built in Corner Brook, but Keith Muise said at this point the people will have to wait and see if they keep it, and need to remind them of it as the process continues.
The Stephenville man is one of a growing number of people from the west coast and Labrador who have been speaking out about the need for a PET scanner on the west coast.
“It’s no surprise, it’s no secret, that people in western Newfoundland feel like for decades we’ve been shortchanged,” Muise said Tuesday.
He said the bombshell that Health Minister Dr. John Haggie dropped two weeks ago that there wouldn’t be a PET scanner at the new hospital was a shock to a lot of people.
Haggie had said the space for a machine would be there should the need for one be determined later.
That was in contrast to a 2014 promise by former premier Dwight Ball, while leader of the Opposition, that a Liberal government would put a PET scanner at the hospital.
“And it was something that put a jolt into me and lot of other folks,” said Muise.
In the days that followed, the government seemed at odds with what was happening, with Corner Brook MHA Gerry Byrne saying there would be a PET scanner at the hospital.
On Jan. 14, Byrne and Haggie sat socially distanced from each other to announce the government is putting $2 million in trust, to be held by the Western Regional Hospital Foundation, for the purchase of a PET scanner.
As Muise followed the situation online he felt compelled to become part of the discussion.
He has shared his thoughts on the situation in words and through video on his personal Facebook page and as a member of the “PET scanner needed in Corner Brook on time in 2023 as promised!” group.
He said a lot of people in the Stephenville area have voiced their displeasure, and last weekend he organized a motorcade rally to give people an opportunity to stand together on the issue.
“It was a time thing. We wanted to make sure that the message was sent before the election happened. Again because of that long-standing sort of feeling from everyone that western Newfoundland is sort of abandoned.”
“This is about making sure when promises are made, they’re kept.” — Keith Muise
Muise said people in the Stephenville area have been disappointed in health care before.
“You’re not going to expect a PET scanner or every single service to be in every single hospital. However, our hospital in Stephenville, you can’t even have a baby delivered in it.”
Having a great hospital but no one around to do anything in it has left a bad taste in people’s mouths, he said.
And it’s not just about western Newfoundland.
“If you have more services, the better for the entire province. It you have two amusement parks that’s never a bad thing. So, if you have medical facilities that can handle the bulk of imaging and checkups on things like cancer, that’s never going to be a detriment to any province. Having more medical services is never going to be the downfall of a place.”
New hospitals don’t happen every day and Muise sees the one in Corner Brook as helping with recruitment difficulties that the province has.
“If you build this state-of-the-art hospital, if you have it decked out with all the latest technology, you’re going to attract people.”
He says the province needs to look at its aging demographic and the need that’s coming for equipment like the PET scanner.
Saturday’s rally started at the Ramp with about 25 or 30 vehicles and picked up some more as it made its way down Main Street.
While some may misread the public outcry as an attack on the Liberal government, Muise said this is not what it’s about.
“This is about making sure when promises are made, they’re kept.”
Gerald Parsons is another person pushing to have those promises kept, and the Corner Brook man was at Saturday’s rally.
Parsons, co-chair of the Western Regional Hospital Action Committee, said Tuesday the group is waiting to see a timeline on when the PET scanner will be put in the hospital.
“If there’s no timeline, we’re no further ahead,” he said.
The committee met with Liberal Leader Andrew Furey while he was campaigning in Corner Brook Monday, and is waiting for a further response on some of the things discussed.
Parsons said he wanted to wait for that response before commenting further.