• The Low Down

Stand up, again, for our hospital

The Editor,


As they say, history repeats itself. So here we are again with talk of our Wakefield Memorial Hospital perhaps facing closure, and where there is smoke, there is usually fire, if one does not investigate and take action.


Parts of the following are extracted from my letter to the editor, “Wakefield Hospital fate non-negotiable,” (published in the April 29, 2015, edition of The Low Down) regarding our beloved hospital, which I believe warrant repeating:


A long time ago, a dedicated rural doctor with a dream built this original Wakefield Hospital. This feat was accomplished during trying times as in our present day challenges. Dr. Hans Geggie’s historical book should be required reading of those who would doubt or even consider its closure or change of mandate…


This 40-bed institution, which is served by a new generation of doctors and nurses, many from ‘away’, continues to serve not only the original and mostly anglophone population of the Gatineau Valley and its descendants, but also the francophone and other ethnic populations, which have joined our communities.


Yes, this rural population uses and appreciates the larger modern and well-equipped urban facilities when needed, but a very large percentage of urban dwellers also utilize and appreciate this little gem called the Wakefield Memorial Hospital. … How many heart patients are alive today because the hospital and its doctors were in closer proximity? How many beds in city hospitals have been freed-up thanks to our small institution. The pandemic has, during the past year, cast a ghost-like emptiness on its entrance and halls, but the beds are fully active and alive with needy individuals.


There is a need for medical clinics, but one cannot replace a rural hospital and the needs for its hospital beds. Our CLSCs are already an excellent base for expansion into clinics, and especially – and most critically – their need for attending doctors and nurse practitioners. The Low CLSC and its ‘by appointment only’ is far from the ideal, open-door drop-in, which was booming in times past and would be again, if the policy was changed and the local nurse was readily available.


Admittedly, these are difficult and tragic times as well as trying financial times. However, there are other areas of budgetary cuts that would not carry the serious consequences of hospital closures or curtailing of critical medical services. Priorities must be made… The hard-fought battle and support for the need of our humble hospital is not one of the ‘solutions’ to be considered, whether by its closing, downsizing, or changing of its existing mandate and services.


Please make your voices heard before the wrong decisions are made. Ensure your municipal and regional governments stand up for our hospital.


Colette Canavan

Low, QC