Shelburne County is a really nice place to live and has the bonus of being in one of the best countries in the world. It is safe, quiet and people generally look out for one another. We have scenery good enough to make it on to our currency and summer people flock here in their thousands. We have flourishing theatres, great museums, world-class restaurants and the highest rate per capita of millionaire businesses in all of Nova Scotia. So why then, can we not keep a simple rural hospital operating as it should be? I type this as I look at yet another Roseway Hospital ER closure press release.
So who then is to blame for this nothing short of ludicrous situation? Or perhaps, is it, that the Department of Health, fueled with over half of our entire province of Nova Scotia's annual budget, is sort of like a huge ship being steered by a broken auto pilot with no one really at the helm, going where it is pushed by various external influences - and there certainly are many of those. And some of those influences are very powerful, have very deep pockets and even deeper vested interests - which in many cases have very little to do with actual health care, but everything to do with self-interest. As a very senior medical practioner once told me to think of some of them as medieval guilds, as that is how they behave and conduct themselves. Perhaps this is why we have a hospital with ever increasing parking lots fees that seems to be open less and less such that there is an ever-decreasing opportunity to collect them.
What makes this all the more frustrating is the almost total lack of meaningful information being provided by the District Health Authority (DHA)/ Department of Health. And it is certainly not available because it has not been asked for. I recently sat through a municipal council meeting where the local DHA representatives were asked a complete suite of questions and did not get a single meaningful answer in return. So what does the lack of information tell us? Is there in fact no one in charge? Is meaningful health care not a priority - but something else instead?
That means we have to get our information elsewhere. It does not take much digging to figure out where things are going wrong. The Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI) with provide all of the medical, salaries, wages, distributions of physicians, specialists, nurses, PN's, LPN's, whatever information you need - all you have to do is be persistent (and it is free) no freedom of information request at $ 25 a pop required. Numerous other web sites provide information as well once you carve off all the promotional advertising and spin doctoring by the professional writers. Certainly medical college web sites, health related union web sites, professional health care sites and especially regulatory sites all can provide useful information if you dig deep enough and it has the added benefit of facilitating cross checking.
So why then is the ER closed here so much more often than it used to be? Why are nurses resigning (another one recently), and physicians and staff at the hospital are losing salaries and wages because of ER closures? And most important of all, how come patients are being carted off to Yarmouth, Liverpool or Bridgewater where in many cases it is impossible for family/relatives to visit and comfort them because the ER is closed? It is our understanding that meaningful and workable solutions have been presented (solutions that are right now working very well elsewhere in this province and in other provinces) and they have been rebuffed as unworkable here. How can this be?
Is it somehow another tied into the new so called medical center, at a cost of $1.4 million and rising, for which we cannot find out anything (ie: what is it for, when will it be built ) - perhaps that too is a symptom of the problem? Clearly the existing situation is simply wrong and the degree of disruption and personal grief and anguish that it is being causing residents is not acceptable. It has been suggested that maybe it is time to invite in an investigative journalist with the skills, sources of expertise and resources to get to the bottom of this and to restore what we had and greatly loved and cherished - a Roseway Hospital with a caring and loving and highly respected staff - open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year - lights on and doors open.