With rural hospitals around P.E.I. being downgraded, residents of Montague expressed concern at a public meeting Monday night about the long-term fate of their hospital.
The meeting was part of a series of information sessions held by the provincial government to explain the changes. Three rural hospitals will have all their acute care beds converted to long-term or extended-care under the plan.
The changes would not affect King's County Memorial Hospital in Montague, but 200 people still turned out to hear what Health Minister Doug Currie had to say. Until the meeting, Montague Mayor Richard Collins hadn't said much on the issue, but Monday night he was asking about the province's long term plans.
"We need and want a hospital," said Collins.
"We at least want one hospital in King's County. If we lose one, we don't want to lose two."
Others at the meeting expressed their concern that with Souris Hospital losing its acute care beds an extra burden will fall on Kings County Memorial. Montague resident Leonard Munroe made a pitch for a return to 24 emergency care.
"Why we can't have our hospital open here 24 hours a day?" said Munroe.
"If you're living in Souris, or in Murray Harbour or Montague, and you're expecting an ambulance to be your saviour, you'd better have plan B, because it just doesn't work."
Currie said under the changes, acute and emergency care beds are ending up at the hospitals that currently need them most.
"We're fortunate on Prince Edward Island to have what we have," he said.
We're a jurisdiction that's not a big, big province, and we have to take advantage of all the assets we have."
The new health care system will rely on rapid response paramedics to treat rural patients quickly, said Currie, but Island EMS, which employs the paramedics, says they won't operate round-the-clock.