150 people show up to hospital rally in Wakaw
Published Saturday, January 22, 2011 6:37PM CST
Roughly 150 people turned out for a rally in the community of Wakaw today. The goal -- to attract attention to a dire health care crisis. It's a passionate plea to keep the doors of the Wakaw hospital swinging.
After a veteran physician retired and another left, the community is down to only one doctor, and that doctor is leaving next month.
This rally is the community's way of letting the province and health region know they won't accept a hospital closure.
Marianne Hildebrandt is a longtime resident of the Wakaw area who does not want to see the hospital close. "We do need doctors because we have a lot of senior citizens and they can't go to other places, and we can't all take ambulances."
In fact, a second ambulance has just been added to help with emergency care in the 4000 person district. On average, paramedics attend two emergency calls a day.
Burke Rudichuk is a paramedic who works in the Wakaw area. "It's nice to have a place to bring people. With overloads in Saskatoon sometimes... A senior being able to come to a local hospital is what they need."
The hospital has been in the community since 1955. Without it, residents would have to travel to Rosthern or Prince Albert. Some have already been forced to do that.
Fay Michayluk helped to organize the rally. She says that without this hospital, the 4000 residents of the area could be without emergency medical care. "We drive an hour, we wait 3 to 4 hours, and then we drive an hour back. That's not meeting the needs of rural Saskatchewan."
But the health region says it's doing all it can. A temporary physician has been hired who will provide services until the end of March. Two nurse practioners are also jumping on board. The health region says it's working around the clock to try and find a permanent doctor for Wakaw's hospital.
Kelvin fisher of the Saskatoon Health Region says the powers that be don't want the hospital to close either. "We have no desire to close the facility, that is not on our agenda, but the reality is that if you don't have a physician in a community where you have a hospital, you can't have in-patient services."
The Saskatoon Health Region will hold a meeting here Tuesday night at the Wakaw rec centre. Officials say they hope to address citizens' concerns on what seems to be an ongoing battle for rural Saskatchewan.