One of the largest, if not the largest, departments of government is that of health care. Involving thousands of employees and hundreds of thousands of dollars to operate, the task of how to keep it running effectively must be a daunting one for any government.
With demands on the system growing at an ever-increasing rate — e.g. the aging population who, by their very nature, begs for more care almost on a continual basis — the capacity of the health-care system to perform satisfactorily is stretched, I would suggest, to the breaking point.
Complaints will occur
To maintain such a vital service which touches the lives of countless people on a daily basis almost certainly guarantees that there might be occasions when circumstances arise that prompt complaints from the general public.
For example, the wait times are too long, it’s impossible to get an appointment with a doctor, conditions on the wards are too crowded, there are not enough nurses on duty, the halls and offices are dirty, the privacy of the patient is at risk, etc.
It’s a given, a “par for the course” situation.
Such complaints cannot be discounted out of hand and, it seems to me, government’s program of cutbacks is not helping conditions.
A different story
Let us remember, however, that there is always the other side of the coin. I will briefly address my remarks to the total picture as I have experienced it.
During the last few weeks of 2012 and the first two months of 2013, I was a patient at G.B. Cross Memorial Hospital in Clarenville and the Miller Centre in St. John’s. In recent days, I have had to spend some time as a patient at the Health Sciences Centre.
Generally speaking, I have nothing but thanks and admiration for the staff and all personnel at these institutions.
As far as I’m concerned, they did everything possible to make my hospital stay as enjoyable and worthwhile as possible.
In making this statement I must point out that, at G.B. Cross in particular, this happened in spite of the fact that quite often, it seemed to me, the nurses were run off their feet — they just couldn’t keep up with the demands made on them.
For example, a patient is left on a bedpan for an inordinate length of time — insignificant by itself, perhaps, but indicative of other things that are taking place because of a shortage of nurses on the ward.
The heavy patient load also, at times, led to less than good professional care for those in need.
More nurses are required to help correct this situation — right away, if possible.
The ones I encountered were doing yeoman service — they were doing as much as humanly possible. Their dilemma needs to be addressed now.
Office staff, room attendants and all those who were involved in any form with patient care were tops. The therapists at both the Miller Centre and G.B. Cross were knowledgeable, enthusiastic and caring.
What more could one ask for?
When I arrived at the Miller Centre, I was taken to my room on a stretcher; when I was discharged, I walked out on my own.
I give the credit for this to all the caregivers who were nothing short of angels of mercy in every sense of the word.
From my own experience, I can’t give enough praise to the doctors, nurses and caregivers who attended me — they were class “A” at all times.
Our health-care system is not perfect and I doubt if it will ever be. However, with all its shortcomings and faults, in my book it deserves the support and attention of all of us.
I count myself more than fortunate to be a Canadian and enjoy, when necessary, the services it provides.
George Martin writes from Clarenville.