Health board to decide fate of G.F. Strong Rehab Centre Nov. 25
Advocates hope that board will scrap flawed rehab plan People with disabilities, health care providers, and advocacy organizations will find out if their hard work to save the G.F. Strong Rehabilitation Centre and improve rehab services for all British Columbians has paid off when they attend the Vancouver/Richmond Health Boardís meeting, Thursday, Nov. 25 at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, 655 W. 12th Avenue. Tomorrow night, board members will be deciding whether to proceed with their controversial proposal - unexpectedly unveiled July 22 - to close G.F. Strong and relocate and consolidate its services with those of the George Pearson Centre at that site. An immediate outcry from people with disabilities and health care unions regarding the planís lack of essential information and consultation caused the board to postpone its decision to November. The B.C. Coalition of People with Disabilities, the Hospital Employees' Union and the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union have spearheaded a multi-faceted campaign within the disability community to highlight critical concerns about the proposal and to push for broad-based consultation on improved rehab services before any decisions are made. People with disabilities who use or have used services at G.F. Strong, and the health care workers who provide them, have been the heart of the campaign that quickly spread beyond the Vancouver/Richmond Health Region to other parts of B.C. To date, a petition circulated throughout the province's disability community contains more than 7,500 signatures. Signatories urge the health board to reject its current plan, to strengthen and build upon existing services at both G.F. Strong and George Pearson centres, and to work with other health authorities and the Ministry of Health to make the improvement of rehab services a priority in health care. Chris Allnutt, secretary-business manager of the Hospital Employees' Union, and Margaret Birrell, executive director of the B.C. Coalition of People with Disabilities, will attend the health board meeting and be available for comment immediately after board members vote on the proposal.