Hi and Welcome to the A & J PEI Treasures E Jean Simpson Author Blog Post and Podcast. I’m your host, Jean usually coming to you from the beautiful Province of Prince Edward Island, Canada!! This week, I am on the road live from our neighbours in New Brunswick, Canada! The blog post and podcast is an opinion piece and only reflects this author’s opinion and not that of any other entity. I hold no designations in politics and am a humanitarian and speak from experience and from that viewpoint only. Whether you agree or not, at least I hope it makes you think. Today I discuss the Health Care Crisis that is going on in Eastern Canada. I specify because I’ve lived on both ends of our beautiful Country and it might be bad in other areas, but in the Maritimes/Atlantic Canada it seems worse. It’s from my perspective having lived on both sides of the country! if you want to find out more, then stay tuned!
Let me start off by saying that I knew things were a bit more difficult on the East Coast when I decided to move back home. I had been living in Edmonton but my heart has always been home (the East Coast). In Edmonton, I had very little problem to find a doctor. I had a specialist and a doctor. Emergency is rough all over. I’ve had serious illnesses while in Alberta and was left in Emergency for hours. That doesn’t change. Depending on how big the area and triage. For example, I was very ill at one time. They marked it down that I was ‘just having a bad period’ at least that is what I heard them saying as I walked away. By the time I saw someone, I had been in pain for hours. Barely able to sit down. They got a newer specialist to see me. Her comment on the way in was chipper enough. They had done some tests and she announced that her “goal was that she wanted to make sure I didn’t bleed out on her tonight”. Yes, give or take exactly the words. I ended up having serious surgery and it took a long time to get well. The triage system puts a tag and that’s what decides when you see someone. There is some danger in that. But, that’s the system.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I got a call that my mother was in hospital and the family needed help when she got out. I knew my father in his late 80’s was left alone. My mother in her early 80’s was in hospital. So, my husband and I decided to drop me at my parent’s house and he would stay home and I would stay with my parents and help out. This was a Province away drive. I get here and they guestimate the hopsital stay for someone who was in their 30’s. It takes double the time for the elderly. This was not avoidable. It did set my father’s expectations higher than they should have, but in the meantime, I could make sure my father was eating regular meals with some healthy quality to it. We called to see if we would be allowed to visit. Apparently there was only one person in the whole of the hospital to be able to say if one could visit or not. It was on a Friday. They were away for the weekend before we found out this was a possibility. So, we had to wait until Monday. On Monday, she would only be there a day or two more so did we mind to wait. It was the surgery floor, so I can understand the reluctance. Didn’t want to drag in COVID or something to the people who just had surgery. That could be deadly. But, it took multiple calls to even have this decided. All those highly qualified people and not one with an ounce of authority or allowed to explain. I have to say, I’m not entirely unable to comprehend. I’m highly educated. I just had health issues that forced early retirement. Seemed strange to me that I had to wait 3 or so days for someone to explain that please wait to me.
Finally, my mother was released. At least we were called by the hospital and they said she was released. My father got there, they are under staffed, it’s not easy for them. I want to be clear, the staff that they have are top notch and the paramedics etc…are all top of the line professionals. I thank them very much for their service and I feel bad they have to deal with lack of staff, over work etc. and some people blaming them for what they have to do to follow the rules they are given. There was only one nurse that was aware that she was being released and she was done for the day and gone I think. No one seemed to know anything. No one was informed. So, he had someone waiting thinking she would be ready when he got there. The person had to wait and wait. She had other business to attend to. The problems now have reached the stage where the staff are suffering, the patients are suffering and anyone who does a favour for someone is made to wait unnecessarily. This problem doesn’t just affect the patient…it affects everyone!
So, my Mother was home two days and doing we thought , well, (I’m not a doctor) but then she got pains. The Paramedic was here in no time (lives close). He came took a look at her and called an ambulance. The Ambulance got here. Very professional staff. Came in checked over my Mother and decided to take her to the hospital. They were in a bad situation. We didn’t know, but the Emergency didn’t have enough staff and were only taking dire emergencies. Now, we’re in the middle of a long weekend and they have Emergency almost closed. This is a large area. Long weekends are the worst time to have short staff. It’s when a lot of accidents tend to happen. People home, BBQ, doing house and yard stuff, having parties. Yet, almost no Emergency department. Between COVID and everything, the staff are just overworked and no rhyme or reason to when things are done. They must be pulling out their hair.
I was up half the night calling to see if they had any information. It was after midnight after all that stress when they finally told me that she was still being tested and I should call in the morning. I called several more times the next day. Doctor wasn’t available until mid-afternoon. They get an emergency, then patients are waiting hours and hours. It can’t be helped, I understand this. Mid to late afternoon, I finally got word that she was comfortable and they removed the stuff from surgery and she would be staying a few days.
So, my mother was left in Emergency. Not enough beds, they couldn’t find a bed for her. She is in early 80’s and father is in his late 80’s. So, we have a situation where the hospitals are understaffed, the authorities that pay for the hospitals are saving every cent and it’s going to be killing people. It is as bad or worse on the Island. I have no doctor, no specialist. I have medical conditions. There, they seem to sign on either people who are ready to retire or they do, apparently from what I was told by one doctor…contracts. So, by the time they see you, they can only follow you for 3 months but I think the contract is almost a year or so. What good does that do? I’m back on the list for an actual doctor, but then so are 22,000 other people (https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-newcomers-doctors-registry-1.6338530) To put this in some sort of perspective, there are over 164,00000 people on the Island so that works out to around 1 of every 7 people on the Island have no doctor ( https://worldpopulationreview.com/canadian-provinces/prince-edward-island-population). Specialists seem still able to write their own ticket yet. Now you tell me, if you are a doctor or a nurse and you graduate from medical school assuming you’re able to do the job, you get offered a long term job somewhere with medical coverage, whatever benefits including retirement and then you are offered something in a little place on contract, which would you take? The one that has a contract and you don’t get medical, you don’t get perks or retirement so why, unless you didn’t get another offer, would you take it? You’d take the one that offers you full job. I can’t blame them for that. If you take the contract, then you’re likely to take it just long enough to get a job in one of the better offer places. Doctors, I would presume aren’t foolish, they aren’t going to go for contract work when they can get a real job with benefits and retirement. Who wouldn’t?
What I find is that everyone is complaining. Now, they also seem to want to blame people. How is this sorting anything out? From what little I hear, the doctors and the nurses are frustrated and tired. They aren’t at fault for this. They deserve good pay, good treatment. They deserve not to be worked like dogs too. The same goes for other important things like fire etc. Anyway, they are not at fault. The people who are sick or have medical conditions are not at fault. They didn’t ask for it. It is not the fault of the paramedics etc. From what I saw, all of them are top notch at the hospital and hard working. They seem to know their ethics and that they can’t just get information from anyone at the hospital nor give it out. It isn’t allowed by the ethics. That I can understand. They know the rules and that makes them top notch professionals. At first, one of the calls I made to the hospital, they told me they couldn’t release information to me, just to my father. My mother had added me a long time ago so it seems that the information isn’t available in the hospital. So, I said, that’s funny, I never had this problem before…slightly inaccurate as the first time ever, they had to get my mother’s permission, but no trouble after that. They then put me through. So, in the hospitals, it seems only one or two know things and the rest have no access to do their jobs. Now, how can they do their jobs?
They finally let her out of hospital. Short one card of her medication and one of her medicare cards. Now, this worries me on a few levels. Most easy is what does this mean they are not doing inventory of patient property? This would be bad. Are they using the pills for her and just no one knows? Not a happy prospect either. Or third…is there an issue with pills? So, any of these not happy thoughts. This makes it something should be looked into and policies made.
So, my beloved Canada, what we are doing to our elderly, what we are doing to ourselves, what we are doing to our professionals, what we are doing to each other? It is not right. Nurses and Doctors shouldn’t be so hard to find or get but they will be if not treated like human beings too. Do you think you can just buy health?? As Roy T. Bennett said, “Top 15 Things Money Can’t Buy Time. Happiness. Inner Peace. Integrity. Love. Character. Manners. Health. Respect. Morals. Trust. Patience. Class. Common sense. Dignity.” I agree, we should not be made to live like animals in our own country. Yes, we are not the richest Provinces. Yes, we have been poorer than the other Provinces. However, you can’t get back your health once it’s gone and leaving people to die like animals when they are older is not right. We need to have compassion for all. We need to have health care available to all. Health care should not be just for the rich or the well. It should be for all of Canada. It should never matter who you are or what you do for a living. I know for a fact, a high up gets hurt, (I’m thinking of a Premier of Alberta it hit the news back then), they take him right in, treat him right away, then they have no idea there are problems. I got treated right away, they say. I think hurt a rib or something. I forget the details. But this is just an example. Every human being is important! Right now, I have to deal with a computer to get my medication. They say I have to see a doctor because they have to do tests…but I don’t have a doctor. I thought that was what the computer was for. It gave me access to a doctor. I’d love to have a doctor that would be respectful. I won’t even tell you about my last experiences with the doctors on the beautiful Island Province. It would curl your hair. So, someone needs to advocate for the patients. Someone needs to advocate for our elderly. Some elderly can’t feed themselves. They need help. Remember, the elderly are our living history and deserve respect! Remember some day you may be elderly.
Now, I can only speak from my perspective of English Canadian from the Maritimes. What I can tell you is that many of us don’t complain and we take it and take it. We’re used to things being rough. But, to be used as door mats to the political system and allow it to take over our hospitals….what are we thinking?!! To have people who have no thought about how their decisions affect the lives of others. The Crisis here is one of common sense and common decency. Not on the part of the doctors, nurses and paramedics, but on the part of the Government and the highest echelons of the hospital system..not the hospitals themselves. However, I’m sure if the doctors and nurses were involved in decision making, things would be changed for the better. There needs to be something done. I’ve heard that more than once. I cannot do it alone. You cannot do it alone. But together we can change the sytem. We have a voice. We forget this. We forget that we have the vote. We forget that we have a tongue with which to speak. We remember it long enough to complain amongst ourselves, but we need to do more. We need to get petitions, we need to call our MLA’s and MP’s. We need to take it to Legislature. Let everyone in Government know that the health care system is in trouble and you’re willing to vote for whoever is going to fix it. If they say they are going to and do nothing…kick them out the next election. Sooner or later, they will belive that you mean what you say. They will start to say what they mean and maybe we can save our health care system which has top notch workers before they murder it. The life you are saving could be your own or that of one of your loved ones. Lots of stuff we can live with, but without our health, we’re not any good to anyone. You may or may not agree, but at least I hope you will think about it!
Thanks for listening to my podcast and/or reading my blog post and thanks for your interest in A & J PEI Treasures! The podcast that matches this blog post is on Anchor FM: https://anchor.fm/a–j-pei-treasures/episodes/One-Persons-Perspective-The-Health-Care-Crisis-in-Eastern-Canada-e1j5lqd
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One Person's Perspective: The Health Care Crisis in Eastern Canada – E Jean Simpson, BEd, BA, MA Author A & J PEI Treasures
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