Frank Coleman backs demand for Corner Brook radiation unit
Representatives from all 3 parties endorse plan, including new PET scanner
Frank Coleman, the presumptive incoming premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, says he supports radiation services at the new hospital planned for Corner Brook.
More than 450 people crowded into a public rally on Thursday night that called for full radiation services, as well as a PET scanner, at the long-planned hospital when it is finally built.
Representatives from all three parties backed residents' demands for radiation services, which have not yet drawn a formal commitment from the provincial government.
Coleman, the Corner Brook businessman who is the only candidate in the leadership race for the governing Tories, supported what rally participants had to say.
The rally, which was organized by the West Coast Health Care Action Committee, drew people from as far away as Burgeo, Port aux Basques and Bay St. George.
Premier Tom Marshall said government's position on providing the treatment in Corner Brook has changed, thanks to new information from Cape Breton and P.E.I.
Marshall said after consulting with officials in those locations, he's decided radiation therapy in Corner Brook is feasible.
He said there's been talks about the issue with Coleman, and they've both agreed on the issue.
"I've had talks with him [Coleman] because he'll be taking over from me in July as premier, and he and I have been talking, and so ... it'll be a go," said Marshall.
According to Marshall, government must now decide if a second machine would be necessary as back-up.
'It's just not right'
Breast cancer patient Shirley Benoit, who arrived on a bus from Port au Port East, said she finds it very difficult to be away from home for eight weeks at a time when she goes to St. John's for treatment.
"I hope with all my heart and soul that we can get the radiation unit here in the new hospital," Benoit told CBC News.
"You feel so sick — you want to be near your family. It's just not right."
The government has approved space for a dedicated radiation unit at the new five-building hospital complex, which is still in the design and pre-construction stage. However, government has ordered a review on radiology services to determine whether demand and expected use justifies the expense.
Hailey Layden, 12, spoke to the crowd about her grandmother, who is receiving radiation treatment in St. John's for a brain tumour.
"If that unit was here, I could see her every day," she said.
"Going over to her house to check on everything and not seeing her rocking in her chair — it makes me nervous, seeing that's she's not here."