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Protesters boo health minister as new ER, cancer centre announced for Cape Breton hospital
Cape Breton’s largest hospital is getting a new emergency department, critical care department, and cancer centre as part of a major expansion.
The Nova Scotia government made the announcement Monday in Sydney, nine months after announcing the closure of two community hospitals in Cape Breton.
The announcement got off to a rocky start as protesters stormed the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre.
Barb Chiasson was one who decided to make her case directly to Nova Scotia's health minister.
“Triage me in the bathroom? Let my husband die? Let other people die? What the frig is wrong with you people?” she said.“Do you not care about any of us in our communities here? Any of us? We asked you to come and help and talk to us. Not a word. You don't care.”
As Chiasson was whisked away by security, Monday's announcement got underway, but not before another unruly welcome for Randy Delorey.
Despite the hecklers, Delorey was finally able to announce a new $100-million facility, which will include a new ER, critical care and cancer centre departments.
“This is about providing the care for today and into the future,” Delorey said.
The project did receive a warm reception from many medical professionals in the room.
“We now have the potential to have an intensive care unit that is state of the art,” said Dr. David Brake. “I would say it will probably be the best intensive care unit in Nova Scotia by the time we're finished. This is a monumental day for us.”
The new ER, the critical care department and the new cancer department will be part of a new 190,000-square-foot building that will be constructed at the back of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital. The two buildings will be connected by a pedway.
The province says the new emergency department will be twice as large as the current one, with more exam and patient rooms, as well as teaching and education space for staff and students.
The new critical care department will triple in size and contain the intensive care, coronary care, and intermediate care units all under one roof. There will be more patient rooms and new family and support spaces.
The government says the Cape Breton Cancer Centre is now serving more than double the patients for which it was built in 1998. The new cancer centre will more than double in size, with twice as many chemotherapy seats and new space for counselling and group sessions.
The provincial government recently approved $8.1 million for the project, which will go toward completing the early design phase. A request for proposals for design services will be issued this week. More funding will be approved as the project moves forward.
The redevelopment is part of a plan to close the Northside General Hospital and the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital, which Premier Stephen McNeil announced over a loud chorus of boos at a news conference last June.
The changes have been met with criticism in Cape Breton, where residents have been sounding the alarm over the state of health care.
Despite the endorsement from physicians and nurses, there is concern from residents about the lack of doctors and how it will be staffed.
“I was rushed into outpatients myself about a month ago and there was six stretchers waiting with six ambulances,” said resident Hugh MacArthur.“It's crazy because they had no doctor to take over.”
Once the announcement was over some protestors tried taking the mic, but they were quickly cut off.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore.