` Columbia Journal - Thin Blue Line
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Thin Blue Line

FROM THE PUBLISHER - BC's second largest city has become a victim of the Liberals' attack on public health care. In line with Gordon Campbell and his minister of Health, Colin Hansen, the Fraser Health Authority made a decision to eliminate between 200 and 256 acute care beds at Burnaby General Hospital, a reduction of 78 to 100 percent of beds. The entire acute care capacity.

The problems created by deep cuts are being compounded by a heavy-handed corporate reorganization of a fragile and sensitive system. In this case, shuffling services around the Fraser Health Region has meant that patients seeking treatment and in need of post-treatment care may have to move or be moved from one facility to another for various stages of treatment and convalescence.

Sweeping changes are creating apprehension and anxiety not just in seniors. Cuts like these hit older people hardest and just like other cities and towns throughout BC, Burnaby seniors are dismayed.

Many organizations and groups, which include seniors in their membership, have had special meetings to discuss and plan strategies to deal with the cuts to come and to survive in Campbell's mean new era.

Fear and outrage are common expressions at these meetings. Many are worried and afraid of being able to get to another, more appropriate hospital or facility before it's too late. The government's plans for the closing down the acute beds at BGH means patient assessment possibly followed by transport to a facility elsewhere out of the city. Many seniors fear the loss of services, which have been now relocated to New Westminster, out of their community.

Uncertainty is causing a great deal of stress not only with older folks, but with people currently not in treatment or hospital but who can reasonably expect to spend some time in the near future in a medical facility. They are most aware of the difficulties of not having their support group close to hand. Many seniors are visited by, whom else-other seniors, and a move to another city for treatment means that many visitors can't get around on the ever-decreasing bus system. "It helped to have my family around." Some seniors would not have recovered from their particular treatments without the support of close friends and family in their community.

Many local Burnaby citizens believe that the overall planning in the Fraser Health Authority will ultimately reduce Burnaby General "to a First Aid station." "MLA's don't appear to know very many facts of the governments' plan. Consultation has been at a minimum, not even MLAs were consulted."

In typical corporate fashion, Campbell has taken his new corporation and has flooded it with conservative right-wing consultants from Ontario, Alberta, England and the U.S. Those working within the system see the changes for what they really are, an attack on the fundamentals of medicare in BC. It's not just their jobs and livelihoods, it is a radical restructuring of the medical system which will see the privatization of most services and the expanded growth of a second tier of services available only to those with the financial resources to access them.

Seniors are outraged to see the changes coming, the backwards slide into the very kind of medical system they fought so hard to improve. These are the people who have lived in times of private medical care, and know full well the disaster awaiting the reintroduction of private, American style of medicine.

Over two hundred protesters included representatives and delegates from the CLC Convention and representatives of different HEU locals alongside Burnaby General employees protesting the firing of local union leaders. In addition, Burnaby City Council-one of the few in BC that seems willing to stand up to the Liberal regime-has set up broad task force to push to keep the hospital intact. These are the people fighting to keep the public in medicare.

Skilled and specialized workers who normally maintain our care facilities in a clean and healthful condition are having to carry the fight to keep our health care system public. They need a lot more help.




The Columbia Journal
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