Pay­ing the price

The Compass - - OPINION -

The women who launched the class ac­tion law­suit against East­ern Health for botched tests to de­ter­mine treat­ment for breast can­cer, be­gan re­ceiv­ing their cheques last week.

Af­ter two years of wait­ing, it’s about time. While the in­di­vid­ual amounts were not made pub­lic to pro­tect the pri­vacy of those re­ceiv­ing the money, the amounts were more than ex­pected.

That’s a lit­tle good news and com­fort for the women who, af­ter all, had gone through so much anguish over this health care fi­asco. Out­side of their own fam­i­lies, no­body re­ally knows the tor­ment they must have gone through dur­ing this un­for­tu­nate or­deal.

Based on six cat­e­gories of harm, the com­pen­sa­tion ranged from $1,000 to $75,000. Due to the over­all num­ber of claims filed by dead­line, the sur­plus was pro­rated across all cat­e­gories. More than 400 breast can­cer pa­tients or their sur­vivors stand to re­ceive com­pen­sa­tion, ac­cord­ing to Ches Cros­bie, the lawyer who rep­re­sented them in their class ac­tion suit.

Their lawyer was pleased with the way things turned out, sug­gest­ing, “this is the way class ac­tion should per­form. It shows the ben­e­fit and merit.” The set­tle­ment reached with East­ern Health brings to a close a two-year ef­fort by pa­tients af­fected and their lawyer to seek com­pen­sa­tion and ac­knowl­edge­ment of the botched hor­mone re­cep­tor tests, used to de­ter­mine treat­ment for breast can­cer pa­tients.

Dur­ing the time pe­riod the er­rors oc­curred, be­tween 1997 and 2005, some 425 pa­tients ended up with the wrong re­sults from tests car­ried out at the im­muno­his­to­chem­istry lab in St. John’s. The whole fi­asco has shaken many peo­ple’s faith in their health care sys­tem and opened wounds that will take some time to heal.

For many peo­ple it will take a long time to re­store their faith in the health care sys­tem.

But the Cameron In­quiry and the re­cent set­tle­ment with the vic­tims of this fi­asco were both steps in the right di­rec­tion. The pub­lic in­quiry that in­ves­ti­gated the test­ing er­rors, made some ex­cel­lent rec­om­men­da­tions, which, hope­fully will be im­ple­mented.

In­clud­ing le­gal fees, the to­tal amount of the law­suit against East­ern Health was $17.5 mil­lion. - $10 mil­lion of that amount was cov­ered by East­ern Health’s in­surance.

As one vic­tim, who re­ceived com­pen­sa­tion, put it, they had to hit them where it hurt most, the wal­let.

Be­cause hu­mans and ma­chines are not in­fal­li­ble, mis­takes will be made. In­deed, we all make mis­takes. His­tory is rid­dled with them.

Let’s hope East­ern Health, govern­ment and all concerned have learned a les­son from all of this. And this is one sad chap­ter in our his­tory, which will never re­peat it­self. Dear edi­tor,

There was and still is a lot of talk, spec­u­la­tion, and prom­ise, but very lit­tle de­tails with re­gard to the MOU process that is sup­posed to save this prov­ince’s fish­ery.

The MOU part­ners — FFAW, seafood pro­duc­ers and the pro­vin­cial govern­ment — or as I re­fer to them as the Coali­tion Against Ru­ral New­found­land And Labrador (CAR­NAL), con­tinue to keep fish­ers and fish plant work­ers in the dark, no dif­fer­ent than what the fish mer­chants of old used to do.

For this MOU process to work, no mat­ter what form, CAR­NAL must have the feds co­op­er­a­tion and funds for it to suc­ceed and based on the fed­eral fish­eries min­is­ter’s com­ments, there isn’t any monies forth­com­ing for a early re­tire­ment and buy-out pack­age for the fish­ery.

All three mem­bers of CAR­NAL have stated that for the MOU to work, the fed­eral govern­ment must in­put fed­eral funds, but with no funds im­mi­nent the process is doomed for fail­ure.

I un­der­stand the po­si­tion of two of the en­ti­ties of CAR­NAL. The pro­ces­sors’ soul pur­pose is to max­i­mize prof­its, have to­tal con­trol of the fish­ery and to en­sure the de­struc­tion of the in­shore fleet and to greatly re­duce the in­de­pen­dent off­shore fleet to be re­placed by larger fac­tory trawlers.

Gov­ern­ments have very lit­tle in­ter­est in the fish­ery and never will so long as crude oil is the king of rev­enues. Gov­ern­ments past, present, and in the fu­ture have wanted a pop­u­la­tion that is within a shout­ing dis­tance from the TCH, and shut­ting down ru­ral New­found­land and Labrador is, for the most part, the goal of this cur­rent govern­ment. If this MOU process comes to fruition, then that goal will be achieved.

The FFAW is a dif­fer­ent story al­to­gether. The goal of most, if not all, unions are for the most part to main­tain their cur­rent mem­ber­ship and ac­tively cam­paign to in­crease mem­ber­ship by lob­by­ing their em­ployer to in­crease their work­force and

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