A pretty loud statement was being made in Armstrong Monday afternoon.
Hundreds of people gathered at the Pleasant Valley Health Centre to rally in support of the Armstrong Lions Vision Centre within the facility.
A rumour has been circulating that Interior Health is planning to close the centre and move it to Vernon Jubilee Hospital.
Interior Health has been experiencing the same difficulties being felt throughout B.C. and Canada, and that is a shortage of anesthesiology resources.
A petition will be started to protest moving the centre.
Monday’s event was organized by the Enderby Lions Club in support of the Armstrong club.
Protesters from surrounding community Lions clubs came to support what they said is their vision and pleaded to keep the centre in Armstrong.
“It’s easy access, it’s level entry parking and there aren’t multiple levels for people to find the right offices and the Lions Club and community have spent a lot of time funding to have supply the equipment for here in the amount of hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Armstrong Lions Club president Diann Boyd.
The protest comes after Boyd heard about the rumour of moving the vision centre to the Vernon Jubilee Hospital and immediately sent out a letter to Dr. Richard Harding, acute health service administrator for hospitals and communities in the North Okanagan for Interior Health, informing Harding the Lions Club wishes to see the centre stay in Armstrong for many years to come.
“We raised money for state of the art equipment and we want to see our hard work stay in our community,” said Boyd.
Harding wrote back that the vision centre “is currently experiencing a shortage of anaesthesiology resources,” and that the shortage is being experienced across Interior Health, throughout B.C. and Canada. Interior Health, he said, has managed to find interim coverage.
“The reason we are here is because we are opposed to it . We have heard several reasons why Interior Health wants to move it from one place to another, they claim their to be a lac of anaesthesiologists, but that is true across Canada and the clinic seems to be operating well where it is,” said the president of Enderby Lions Club, Dennis Morgan.
The centre currently has three ophthalmologists operating out of the facility, three from Vernon and one from Salmon Arm.
In December 2017, the vision centre was the beneficiary of a new argon laser, which saw Lions Clubs from Armstrong, Lumby, Vernon and Sicamous, along with support from the Armstrong Spallumcheen Health Auxiliary and Royal Canadian Legion Branch 35, respond to a financial request from the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation for the laser.
The groups raised $108,400.
“Please don’t move it, it’s really vital to our community and our seniors,” said past Lions Club president of Enderby Linda Fisher.