BLOG | The people behind the High River hospital rally

High River blogger Angela Piovesana with a personal take on Friday's hospital rally.

Blogger Angela Piovesana says residents need the hospital to be restored to what it was before floods

About 75 High River residents attended a rally outside the High River General Hospital on Friday. (Angela Piovesana/for the CBC)

High River residents Angela Piovesana and Amanda Pawlitzki will be blogging over the summer about their experiences during and after the floods that hit southern Alberta.

They'll tell stories of the recovery through the eyes of people who live there.

I have been called a "gentle hippy" in the past and accepted and embraced the term. 

The thing about High River is that there are many of us gentle hippies living here. 

I should explain what I think gentle hippie means. We will fight for what we think is right but in the most productive and positive way, gently but with conviction. 

We don’t feel the need to conform but we do like to commune with nature and our fellow "High Riverites." We also love to be creative and are inspired to create by the everyday things in life.

Friday's protest at the local hospital was a gathering of such like-minded people. 

The inspiration to come together was captured by Kat Westerman. She is a young new-generation gentle hippy who worked at the local coffee shop and then a pub prior to the flood.  

Her real passion is singing and songwriting and we all adore her beautiful voice and John Lennon-style. 

I have known Westerman since she was in high school. She used to come into my store and look at absolutely everything and we would chat at length about her writing and her keen interest in politics and the environment. 

The gentle protest was to let the province know that we need our hospital exactly as it was prior to the flood, all of its services intact.

Annie Froese, a local artist, art teacher and owner of Art and Soul Gallery, invited the attendees to come to her studio the evening prior to make the protest signs.   

Paula Elliot, the manager of Colossi’s Coffee House and owner of the Underground Supper Club, rallied others to join with her spirited enthusiasm.  

These were just a few of the residents that turned out in support our local doctors, who earlier this week joined forces to write a letter to the province. They too are looking for answers and specific details of the reopening plan.

Dr. Keith Spackman, hospital chief of staff, was kind of enough to come out and speak to the residents and the media. He wasn’t required to but said he felt compelled.

Spackman has lived and practiced in High River since the population was only 6,500 — which has doubled since then.

Spackman, who oversees urgent care operations, is known by most residents as their family doctor and for those who have had surgery he likely was their anaesthetist. 

He was able to impart one very important piece of information. He has confidence that the High River General Hospital will reopen and all medical services will once again be offered here. 

He explained that it will take time and support services must be in place before admission of patients can begin. The cafeteria must be operating to feed the patients and staff, the air-conditioning must be working, the elevators must be operational. 

He reassured the protesters that as much as the residents need their doctors, the doctors are anxious to be able to see patients and get back to normal.