More than 500 people packed a school gym in eastern P.E.I. Wednesday night, most of them demanding the province reverse its new plan for the local hospital.

As part of a broad-based reform of health care delivery in the province, Health Minister Doug Currie announced last month acute care beds would be closed at Souris Hospital, and it would be converted to an extended care facility.


Doug Currie insisted the planned changes to health care in rural P.E.I. would go ahead. (CBC)

The plan is deeply unpopular amongst those attending the government's information meeting in Souris on the changes.

"I can almost guarantee that you'll need to look for another a job after the next election," Steve Cheverie of the North East Community Alliance told Currie.

"You're playing russian roulette with these people's lives," added Gerard Holland, former owner of Kings County EMS.

Currie stuck to his guns, saying having acute care beds in Souris was not the best use for them. He explained nearly half of acute beds in Charlottetown and Summerside are being used by non-acute patients, and this is part of the plan to change that.

"It's unacceptable that we have seniors and children in stretchers in hospitals, in our main referral hospitals, while we have vacant beds in smaller centres," he said.

But few in the Souris gymnasium seemed convinced. They see the changes as an attack on rural P.E.I., and a reduction in the quality of health care.

"You have to stop talking to the backroom boys in Charlottetown about how to fix health care rural health care in P.E.I.," said Gerard Holland.

But Currie said the changes will proceed as planned, as unpopular as they may appear to be.

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