Protestors lay flowers for rural hospitals
Busloads of protestors from across Prince Edward Island converged on Province House Thursday evening to protest changes to rural hospitals.
Last month the province announced several hospitals would have their acute care beds closed and be converted to extended care facilities. The emergency department at Western Hospital in Alberton will operate without a doctor present in the overnight hours.
A series of information meetings presented by the government to explain the changes did not soften the mood at Thursday's protest.
"It's about our children, and them having a community to come back to," said Natasha Dunn of the Save Western Hospital ER Committee.
Chief Darlene Bernard of Lennox Island First Nation spoke out against the closure of acute care beds in Tyne Valley.
"The erosion of health services at Stewart Memorial Hospital will have a very profound negative impact," said Bernard.
Hope that government will reconsider
Many hoped the protest would convince the government to change its plans.
"God I hope it does, I really hope it does," said Jane Dunphy, who travelled to Charlottetown from eastern P.E.I.
"So much good sense was talked today, and so many good ideas came forward."
Premier Robert Ghiz addressed the crowd. As he spoke, people came to the podium, laid flowers, and walked away.
"The changes that we are making, we believe we're making them in the best interest of all Islanders to deliver the best possible care," said Ghiz, to boos from the protestors.
Organizers of the protest are now looking to meet with the provincial government to talk further about the changes to P.E.I.'s rural hospitals.