The quest will continue for a CT scanner in Inverness
This fight is not going away.
On Saturday, the CT Scan for Inverness Committee added almost a thousand more people to their cause, angry people, fed up with their government and seriously sick of being ignored.
Choosing to live in a vibrant and now thriving rural community should be celebrated and even commended. Attracting families and young people back to this island has been on everyone’s mandate as of late. Having top-notch schools and a hospital is essential in this endeavour.
A CT scanner is also vital in attracting new doctors to the area.
Inverness is the only hospital on the western side of Cape Breton Island with an operating room. The ICMH has always been known as a first-rate facility with some of the best doctors practicing there. After much hard work and fund-raising and support from government, there was the expansion and renovation to the hospital and the manor, and things were looking good.
It was a promising future for the ICMH, and then things started to change.
“We started with close to one hundred beds. We were cut down to seventy-five, and now there are only slightly more than forty-five beds,” states Inverness resident and retired nurse Janice Ferguson.
Operating room times have been cut as well. There currently is a shut-time of 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This is leaving residents of Inverness County asking, “What’s next?”
A CT scanner costs about one million dollars. MLA Allan MacMaster points out to the government officials that a CT scanner would save $700,000 a year in travel expenses. Therefore, the equipment would pay for itself in less than two years. It will save hundreds of thousands of dollars in terms of ambulatory services. Also, nurses need to assist patients in the ambulances. Everyone who attended the rally all echoed the same idea, shipping sick or injured people over two hours away, and that’s in good weather conditions, is ludicrous and dangerous.
The hospital was promised a CT scanner several years ago, but it never has arrived at the facility.
The people of Inverness County are refusing to be ignored on this issue, “There is money already being saved, and if necessary more can be collected. It does not stop here; we will continue to protest until someone will listen. Hopefully there is someone out there with enough power to hear and help us,” concluded Ferguson.
On Saturday, accompanying the people in their fight and lending their voice to the cause were MP Rodger Cuzner, MLA Allan MacMaster, Councillors Jim Mustard, Betty Anne MacQuarrie, Alfred Poirier and Gloria LeBlanc.
All of the councillors stated they would do absolutely everything they could to aid in getting the ICMH what had been promised and what is desperately required. They all reside here and know that a CT scan is an essential service in this County. Councillor Jim Mustard gave a rousing speech of unification at the rally. He believes that the rally was also important as an information sharing event. “It allows us to now speak with one voice as to the priority of getting the CAT scan for the ICMH. As a municipal council we believe our regional hospital is a key piece of infrastructure for our economic renewal that we need to have strengthened and not further eroded.”
Mustard advises that at the September Inverness County Council meeting they will be officially sending a message to the Province demanding an immediate review of the decision to provide a CAT scanner for the ICMH.
Liberal candidate Jackie Rankin also spoke to the matter and circulated hundreds of letters that were signed by the people attending the rally. These letters were sent on Monday to the government in Halifax.
There has been plenty of election talk lately as well; the Dexter government would be wise to listen to the concerns of the people of Inverness County. This rally was held to show the Dexter government just how deep the concern is.
Doctor N. G. Pillai has been at the centre of this fight from the beginning. After finishing his call shift at the hospital he came over to speak to the serious problem with members of the provincial government. Dr. Pillai recounted the trip that the CT Scan for Inverness Committee took two weeks ago. “Health Minister Dave Wilson seemed to have the same rehearsed reply, which he used over and over again, that they have to go by the auditor general’s economic decision, and that’s how the system works.” Dr. Pillai informs that it is essential in emergency situations such as accidents, strokes, and other acute situations.
The committee was told that Inverness does not rate high enough to get a CT scanner.
All of the doctors have pointed out that lives are at risk at the hospital because there is no CT scanner. It takes at least two hours by ambulance to reach the Cape Breton Regional Hospital in Sydney, or St. Martha’s in Antigonish.
MLA Allan MacMaster has twice called for a CT scanner for the Inverness hospital, and twice he has been turned down.
A retired nurse and senior spoke strongly about the dire need for this service. Inverness County has an aging population and health concerns are a major issue as one gets older. “Try travelling with a broken hip, over two hours away, over Kelly’s Mountain, in a snowstorm as an eighty-year-old and then tell me that this service is not needed.”
There was much passion in the air as the people of Inverness County mobilized and marched from the Inverness Education Centre Academy to the Health Centre at the ICMH. The streets were packed with people, and supporters also lined the sidewalks and cheered for the cause and honked their horns. Mothers, fathers, children, seniors, health care professionals and business owners all took a stand and united together to bring the message that they will not be ignored.
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