Groups organize against rural health care cuts

Concerned people from across Prince Edward Island rallied in Summerside on Saturday calling on the government to stop cuts to their rural health care.

ER and acute care on the chopping block

Dozens of concerned people from across Prince Edward Island rallied in Summerside on Saturday calling on the government to stop cuts to their rural health care.

Organisers say government plans threaten ER and acute care services in rural communities and put patients in jeopardy.

Natasha Dunn, spokeswoman for a group called Save Western Hospital, said people in her community of Alberton still don't know how their emergency rooms will be staffed overnight.

Adding, there are fears the government plans to change the Western Hospital's ER to a collaborative emergency centre.

"Is it a paramedic three? Is it a nurse practitioner? Is it an RN? What type of experience will they have? Number one for our committee is still having a physician there 24/7 at the hospital. How can we better service our aging population and our baby boomers? You can't, not without a hospital in the area," she said.

The issue brought hundreds to a similar meeting in Souris on Tuesday. Many said they fear that the Island's two major hospitals in Charlottetown in Summerside can't handle any more patients.

The decision to close the dialysis centres in Souris and Alberton was announced last spring. After protests, it was delayed for a year and then finally reversed.

The province already announced the Souris Hospital will become an extended care facility, and no longer offer acute care beds.

Now organisers are asking community groups from all over P.E.I. to band together and oppose government changes to healthcare.

They're planning a rally in front of the legislature in Charlottetown in April; the same month health officials will travel across the province to outline the full set of changes.