Hospi­tal rally was all about pol­i­tics

The Amherst News - - OP-ED - Jerry Ran­dall is a mem­ber of the Amherst News Com­mu­nity Ed­i­to­rial Panel.

There is no ques­tion in my mind that the rally at the hospi­tal on Aug. 22 was in­deed a po­lit­i­cal rally rather than a health-care rally as ci­ti­zens were led to be­lieve.

If Con­ser­va­tive MLA El­iz­a­beth Smith-McCrossin had not re­fused Mayor David Ko­gan per­mis­sion to speak at that gath­er­ing, and then speak­ing at length her­self, the per­cep­tion may have been dif­fer­ent.

But that wasn’t the case, and in a truly am­a­teur move wiped out any good that might have come from that ef­fort to save our hospi­tal and ba­sic health care in this area.

It didn’t sur­prise me at all, and be­cause I fully sus­pected that was go­ing to hap­pen, I de­cided to not at­tend. From what I have read of what hap­pened at the gath­er­ing, I think I made the right de­ci­sion! (BTW, I would say the same thing about any politi­cian who acted this way, re­gard­less of what po­lit­i­cal party he/she rep­re­sented.)

I en­joyed a dis­cus­sion about our health-care woes a few weeks ago with a per­son who re­ally is well versed in the topic.

I will not re­veal his name, as some small thinkers in this area might cause reper­cus­sions for him, and also be­cause his iden­tity is unim­por­tant.

He told me that a pretty good num­ber of doc­tors have come here to learn about the pos­si­bil­i­ties of join­ing the med­i­cal staff in this area.

He stated that un­for­tu­nately, much of the in­for­ma­tion they are given by their tour guides is pre­sented neg­a­tively and does not tend to en­cour­age them to come here.

That also doesn’t sur­prise me! I am will­ing to bet that these peo­ple who show vis­it­ing doc­tors around our town and area are not trained for that duty, and thus the mes­sage they give is con­fus­ing and dis­jointed.

The peo­ple head­ing up this ef­fort should be pur­su­ing the task with trained guides who are able to get away from per­sonal prej­u­dices and the use of neg­a­tive phrases, and all should give the same story in es­sen­tially the same man­ner.

If the method is good enough for mu­seum guides and tourist guides, it should def­i­nitely be the sys­tem used here.

One of the things my in­for­mant told me re­ally blew me away. He stated that most doc­tors who were con­sid­er­ing com­ing here de­cided against it when they dis­cov­ered that Nova Sco­tia pays doc­tors dif­fer­ent rates de­pend­ing on where they choose to live, and that this area is among the low­est pay lev­els in the prov­ince.

I had a great deal of trou­ble with that idea, and I know new doc­tors would also find that un­ac­cept­able.

I al­ways thought that med­i­cal peo­ple were paid rates based on their pro­fes­sional ed­u­ca­tion, and not ever on where they choose to prac­tice.

Un­der our sys­tem, doc­tors in Hal­i­fax are paid the high­est rate, and doc­tors liv­ing at the far ends of the prov­ince are paid lower rates.

No won­der we don’t get them com­ing here!

I have been call­ing for the use of nurse prac­ti­tion­ers, or re­tired armed forces medics, for a good num­ber of years now, and, as usual, my sug­ges­tions fall on deaf ears.

But that idea could be very valu­able if clin­ics were also es­tab­lished through­out the county, thus bring­ing the first level of health care closer to the ci­ti­zens who need it.

My idea is to send most peo­ple who need med­i­cal at­ten­tion to the clinic clos­est to where they live.

At that level, a nurse prac­ti­tioner would as­sess their needs, and then ei­ther treat them ap­pro­pri­ately or send them to a higher level of ser­vice, likely the hospi­tal. that should se­ri­ously re­duce the long wait times peo­ple are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing at emer­gency in the Cum­ber­land Re­gional Health Care Cen­tre.

Only those peo­ple who re­ally need that level of at­ten­tion would ac­tu­ally be re­ferred there. Such an ef­fort should re­sult in much less wait time and thus a more pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence.

Fi­nally, I truly be­lieve that peo­ple should be charged a small ser­vice fee for ac­cess­ing health care in Nova Sco­tia.

I know that idea is very un­pop­u­lar, but we have too few peo­ple pay­ing taxes in Nova Sco­tia, and there just isn’t enough money in the pro­vin­cial cof­fers to keep on pay­ing such high fees to doc­tors, high salaries to nurses and other sup­port staff, high ex­penses to keep hospi­tal doors open, and so on.

Re­al­ity is a hard taskmas­ter, and this is one of them.

Jerry Ran­dall

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