15 September 2009

Way less for way more in Lewisporte

While everyone is talking about the removal of laboratory and x-ray services from Lewisporte, a much larger cut seems to have escaped public attention.

The proposed redevelopment of the chronic care centre at North haven Manor was supposed to include acute care facilities as well.  The original budgeted cost was $20 million.

When people started to complain about the lab and x-ray business, the initial government response from no less a personage than the local member of the legislature was that people should be mindful of the $30 million health centre that was coming to town.

Now a 50% cost over-run sounded bad enough, the more accurate version of the whole story is found in the local newspaper – the Lewisporte Packet – from August 12.

Turns out that the original concept had ballooned in cost to $42 million.  Not so much as a single shovel had been soiled by local mud and the thing had jumped 110% in cost.  The provincial government’s response was to hack out most if not all of the acute care facilities, bringing the cost down to the low 30s.

"The one-roof health facility project was estimated to be around $20 million. It escalated to be about $40 million, in fact over $40 million," Mr. Oram explained. "As a government we had to look at where our priorities lie and we had to prioritize based on the identified needs.

"The project is still going to be - from our estimates - around $30 million for North Haven Manor and some other components as well. There's no way to keep it under $30 million to do what we want to do there and to meet the needs that we see as being in the Lewisporte area - this is the amount of money we are going to have to spend to do it."

The slash to laboratory and x-ray facilities was on top of that $12 million cut.

If all that weren’t bad enough,  the story is already widening.

Health minister Paul Oram is taking it in the head for the way the information on the x-ray and lab changes was released in the first place, let alone the way the new information flopped out last Friday.

The letters released last Friday have given risen to concerns in other communities that cuts are coming there as well. But even in trying to allay concerns, the health minister just made matters worse:  all health regions were asked to identify cuts, according to Oram

Now what he said is absolutely true but in the context, he is only adding gasoline to his own backside.  In his initial bluster, Oram stated clearly that further changes – always read as cuts – are coming.


Related:  “Much less for may more for St. Anthony