New hospital won’t make us healthy

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The trees have been removed and the rock is being blasted. The new hospital is on its way to being built.

The old hospital, which is fairly new when compared to other hospitals in North America, was built by the government. The government couldn’t afford to build the new hospital so has involved the private sector as partners to build and run it. Does that mean that government health care is moving slowly toward private health care because the government can’t afford to do it anymore? How is the new hospital going to help improve health care in the North? It is said there will be 100 more beds. I’m hearing that the extra beds won’t be there unless the huge price tag is not bumped up substantially.

Will the new building bring more doctors North? The City of Yellowknife beautification program doesn’t bring more people North, why would a new building do it? The doctors will continue to fly in and out as locums. Health care needs to improve in the NWT. It is easy to build a building and say, “Look what we have done for your health!” It is much harder to make us healthy.

My friend Roman got sicker and sicker. He went to the doctors here. They could not tell him the name of his sickness. He watched TV and went to his computer trying to diagnose his sickness. He went to the naturopath. At least the naturopath spent more time with him. Finally after two years this hard-working tough guy couldn’t take it anymore. He sold a collector’s car he had and took the $25,000 he got and flew to the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Ariz. There he had four days of tests.

He came back to Yellowknife with a diagnosis of the disease and prescriptions, which he converted to Canadian prescriptions. The Americans said the one prescription should have been given to him a year earlier to stabilize his condition. The powers that be didn’t want him on the prescription because it was $1,000 a month and warned the results wouldn’t be worth the investment. The doctors here weren’t really interested in the paperwork the Mayo Clinic had generated. Roman got worse and couldn’t breathe. He had to argue and make a scene to get an oxygen tank to take home with him. I believe it was when he to emergency a locum doctor from out of town had him sent to Edmonton.

Shortly after getting to the Edmonton hospital the lung transplant team took over. I remember when he got home to Yellowknife he was so happy. “Finally, I’ve got someone who knows what is going on. They answered all of my questions. They said the paperwork from the American doctors is good stuff and they are going to use it!”

They worked with Roman for a year or so but the diagnosis had come and been acted on too late. He died at 62. Who killed him? Was it the 30-year-old Stanton hospital building?

On occasion one reads an obituary where the family thanks the health care providers for the good job that they did. On the other hand, I have heard complaints from family of the deceased. I think the Department of Health and Social Services should do a mini evaluation after each death with input from families of the deceased. This would help find the gaping holes in our system.

If the GNWT wants to improve health care in the NWT it should put up some tents or maybe a couple of skids in the hospital parking lot to provide space for more administration if the government can’t afford to build or renovate a new hospital. In 2015, there are some pretty funny tents and skid shacks being built. The GNWT should then take what money is left over from the $1 billion over 10 years and apply it to bringing in and retaining professionals who will help us be healthier and fix us if not. If you can’t afford the buildings, how are you going to afford the rest of the system needed to make the building useful. It is called government-run health care, not P3-run health care.

The other option is that the hospital and the whole department of health be operated on the public-private partnership.

Having a hospital built and run with a private partner while the community fundraises to put needed equipment in the building is possibly an admission of not being able to do the job.

It seems devolution was about downloading responsibility without the cash to do the job. We have a bridge already that we couldn’t afford. The Canadian economic slump is affecting us. Our biggest economic generator is government. We can’t afford what we can’t afford. Making deals like this shows we definitely can’t afford to be a province.

First Nations governments should take a lesson from this. Don’t take the responsibility if you don’t got the cash!

Article courtesy – Northern News Services Online