People from western P.E.I. packed a meeting in Alberton Monday night to tell Health Minister Doug Currie they don't like his plan for the hospitals in West Prince.

"Your government failed its own people by implementing changes without community consultation," Natasha Dunn accused the minister.


Health Minister Doug Currie addresses the crowd of more than 200 in Alberton. (CBC)

"You have already made your decision. So Minister Currie, why are you here now?"

Dunn has led the charge to keep the emergency department open at Western Hospital, but last month Currie announced sweeping changes to health care in rural P.E.I. that would close acute care beds at Community Hospital in O'Leary, convert Stewart Memorial in Tyne Valley to a seniors care home, and see the emergency at Western Hospital in Alberton become a collaborative emergency centre overnight, with no doctor on site. Patients would be treated by paramedics and nurses with access to a physician by telephone.

Dunn was joined at the meeting by more than 200 others for an information session on health care changes led by Currie and acting Health PEI CEO Dr. Richard Wedge.

The people who came to the microphone with questions all had a similar message.

"I think you better go over and sit over at Western Hospital in the evening, well into 11 o'clock at night and you will see that it doesn't fall at 6 o'clock. It increases," said Helen MacNeil of the number patients going through the hospital.

Currie said creating a collaborative emergency centre at Western Hospital will allow it to stay open around the clock, which has been a challenge in recent years under the current system.

"I don't have the ability to as the minster, [to]

force people into communities to work in physician positions," he said.

"We have to find creative ways."

There's no timeline for when the CEC will open.

Other changes to the system have been scheduled. An 811 telehealth line will open September 1, and new rapid response paramedics will be on the job in six to eight weeks.

For mobile device users: Did the P.E.I. government provide adequate opportunity for consultation before making changes to the rural health care system?