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Bonavista protesters hold mock disaster to highlight X-ray cuts


Protesters in Bonavista have been holding daily rallies hoping to convince the province to reverse health care cuts at the local hospital.

Yesterday, the group decided to raise awareness with a mock disaster.

The group carried each other, with wheelbarrows, wheelchairs and even a handbar to the Bonavista Peninsula Health Care Centre’s emergency entrance after 4 p.m.

The group included Bonavista’s notorious character Lizzie Jane, as played by Eliza Swyers. They walked around the exterior of the building and left again.

The tongue-in-cheek re-enactment then saw the protesters go to the town limits, as if they were about to walk to Clarenville.

While the act was admittedly exaggerated, protest organizer Swyers says they wanted to raise awareness for their cause because it is an essential service they are being denied.

“We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing and get the service back — no matter what it takes, no matter how long it takes,” Swyers told The Packet.

For over a month now, protesters have met for an hour daily to oppose the cuts to hours of X-ray in the hospital.

Now, after 4 p.m., an X-ray technologist will not be called in to perform diagnostic imaging, forcing patients to go to a different hospital unless they can wait until morning.

A number of patients in the area have already been transported to other hospitals, like Clarenville, for X-rays since the change in hours.

A serious matter to stadium manager

One of the participants in the mock disaster was Lloyd Stagg, stadium manager and sports coordinator for the Town of Bonavista.

For him, the issue is an incident waiting to happen when it comes to young people playing sports.

He says, between ball hockey, soccer and softball in the summer and the very popular ice hockey in the winter, there’s always plenty of different sports being played with the risk of injury to kids.

“If anything happens to our kids after 4 p.m., what are we supposed to do?” asked Stagg.

“We’d have to take an injured kid — we might not know how injured he might be, it could be serious and have to do with his back, neck or head — and then when we can’t get X-rays out here, we’ve got to put him, probably, on a (back)board and ship him to Clarenville in an ambulance on rough roads to travel over.”

He is also concerned because his son, Jacob, is active in many different sports.

“If that happens to my kid, somebody is going to have to answer—big time,” said Stagg.

In the past, he says, there’s always been the assurance that there was a full health care system covering them in case something happened. Now, he says, with the recent X-ray cuts, it’s sad to see incidents already happen and there could be more in the future.

“It’s very, very serious when you’ve got to take a kid off the ball field or out of the ice rink — that’s anywhere from the age of four to 18 — when you’ve got to put them on an ambulance and take them to another hospital because of what the government has got done.”

MHA King says he’s still working on a solution

Bonavista MHA Neil King told The Packet via email that he is still working with Eastern Health and the Department of Health and Community Services to resolve the issue of X-ray availability at Bonavista hospital.

“This service is important to me and the people I serve,” he said in a written statement. “Currently there is call-in service for X-rays three out of every four weeks due to cross training of staff.”

This refers to laboratory technologists who are also trained as X-ray technologists and can perform X-rays if they are also called to come in for lab work.

“I will continue to work with all key stakeholders to ensure we get the fourth week of afterhours coverage,” said King.

jonathan.parsons@thepacket.ca

Twitter: @jejparsons

Yesterday, the group decided to raise awareness with a mock disaster.

The group carried each other, with wheelbarrows, wheelchairs and even a handbar to the Bonavista Peninsula Health Care Centre’s emergency entrance after 4 p.m.

The group included Bonavista’s notorious character Lizzie Jane, as played by Eliza Swyers. They walked around the exterior of the building and left again.

The tongue-in-cheek re-enactment then saw the protesters go to the town limits, as if they were about to walk to Clarenville.

While the act was admittedly exaggerated, protest organizer Swyers says they wanted to raise awareness for their cause because it is an essential service they are being denied.

“We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing and get the service back — no matter what it takes, no matter how long it takes,” Swyers told The Packet.

For over a month now, protesters have met for an hour daily to oppose the cuts to hours of X-ray in the hospital.

Now, after 4 p.m., an X-ray technologist will not be called in to perform diagnostic imaging, forcing patients to go to a different hospital unless they can wait until morning.

A number of patients in the area have already been transported to other hospitals, like Clarenville, for X-rays since the change in hours.

A serious matter to stadium manager

One of the participants in the mock disaster was Lloyd Stagg, stadium manager and sports coordinator for the Town of Bonavista.

For him, the issue is an incident waiting to happen when it comes to young people playing sports.

He says, between ball hockey, soccer and softball in the summer and the very popular ice hockey in the winter, there’s always plenty of different sports being played with the risk of injury to kids.

“If anything happens to our kids after 4 p.m., what are we supposed to do?” asked Stagg.

“We’d have to take an injured kid — we might not know how injured he might be, it could be serious and have to do with his back, neck or head — and then when we can’t get X-rays out here, we’ve got to put him, probably, on a (back)board and ship him to Clarenville in an ambulance on rough roads to travel over.”

He is also concerned because his son, Jacob, is active in many different sports.

“If that happens to my kid, somebody is going to have to answer—big time,” said Stagg.

In the past, he says, there’s always been the assurance that there was a full health care system covering them in case something happened. Now, he says, with the recent X-ray cuts, it’s sad to see incidents already happen and there could be more in the future.

“It’s very, very serious when you’ve got to take a kid off the ball field or out of the ice rink — that’s anywhere from the age of four to 18 — when you’ve got to put them on an ambulance and take them to another hospital because of what the government has got done.”

MHA King says he’s still working on a solution

Bonavista MHA Neil King told The Packet via email that he is still working with Eastern Health and the Department of Health and Community Services to resolve the issue of X-ray availability at Bonavista hospital.

“This service is important to me and the people I serve,” he said in a written statement. “Currently there is call-in service for X-rays three out of every four weeks due to cross training of staff.”

This refers to laboratory technologists who are also trained as X-ray technologists and can perform X-rays if they are also called to come in for lab work.

“I will continue to work with all key stakeholders to ensure we get the fourth week of afterhours coverage,” said King.

jonathan.parsons@thepacket.ca

Twitter: @jejparsons

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