Sunday, March 8, 2009
Yesterday's Friendly Rally at the Banff Mineral Springs Hospital
Yesterday was the family friendly rally to support the reopening of obstetrics at the Banff Mineral Springs Hospital. Quin & I, along with friends, Megan, Corinne, & Jodie, picked up the t-shirts provided by Dr. Jane Fowke, and headed to the rally about 5 PM. There were already a few people there, including Crazy Larry, our local good guy, who had giant balloons for the kids. The donated tent was not anywhere to be found, but the hospital had designated a spot for us to be, in their smaller park lot, in front of the building. They had hired two security guards earlier in the week, so we knew that we would not be let into the building. Local press were already there, from the Canmore Leader and Mountain FM. Eventually someone from the Rocky Mountain Outlook arrived, but the CBC never turn up but wow, the community sure did. I am not good at estimating these things but there were over one hundred people at the peak. Pam arrived with pizzas donated by Panago, and Wild Flour Bakery donated a bunch of food, in fact there was someone bringing it around on trays. Men, women, children, and dogs came out to lend their support. Megan, Jodie, Corinne, and Quin brought their posters to the road to get passing cars to honk. My friend, Kim, who is due on March 17th, came with her husband, Kevin. They are among the couples who did not have their child before Friday's closing of the ward, and will have to go to Canmore or Calgary when Kim goes into labor. She could have walked to BMS, I feel so bad for her. She is taking it in stride but was devastated when she was given the news....
At 6 PM, Dr. David Swann, the liberal leader for Alberta, arrived with Dr. Fowke, to speak with the crowd. From all the research I have done on him, he is a really good guy, who is very into rural community, the environment, and peace. He said that the government has mandated a 20% reduction in health care costs, and that while we are not the only rural community that has had the basic service of obstetrics removed from our hospital, we are the only community that has thus far put up a fight. He was inspiring to listen to, and Crazy Larry handed out transcripts of him going to bat for us in the legislature. Dr. Fowke also spoke, telling us how she had to deliver two babies in Canmore that day, when that hospital was over full, and when in Banff they had plenty of room. One of Pam's friends also spoke, about the horrible experience she had two years ago when she was medi vaced to Edmonton to give birth.
At one point we did march on the hospital, only to be locked out. Aside from this, people mostly spoke to one another about how unbelievable this whole thing is. There were many good signs, one of the best being the one below. And it is true.
Tomorrow there is a town meeting with the hospital administration. We have all been encouraged to attend with our kids. I think Andre will even be able to come with us. The turn out should be even better than the rally. Councillor Stavros Karlos will be asking some very difficult questions, among them many submitted by locals. I am excited about it so I must get to bed... For more photos you can check out my albums on Facebook.