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CONTRIBUTION · 18th May 2012
Les Deacon-Rogers
To: Doug Donaldson, MLA
To: Nathan Cullen, MP
To: Mayor Galina Durant, District of Stewart
To: Mrs. B. Belcher, Councilor, District of Stewart
c.c. Community Members, District of Stewart, North Web Press, Northern Health

Good Morning. I have attached 2 photos of a truck/camper parked near the Emergency Entrance of our Hospital. I spoke with our nurse at the hospital regarding this sign and learned that she is the only nurse in the community and that there will probably not be another nurse here until the end of May, 2012.

I don't care what the reasons, what possible extenuating circumstances resulted in this situation; quite simply, I consider this to be very poor personnel management of a health facility; particularly when you consider that the next nearest health facility is 4 hours away by road and about 1 1/2 hours away by helicopter assuming that the weather situation at any given time permits helicopter flying and landing.

Our health services in this community have gradually been eroded over the years to the point where they may be approaching a very dangerous level. How long, do you think, will it take before there is a serious incident directly resulting from over-worked health care professionals? Is it going to take an unfortunate, and probably preventable, incident before staffing levels and direct health care resources for this community are addressed? Who is going to bear the personal burden of guilt if such a situation should occur?

We are now approaching a long weekend with one nurse working 24/7 - is that safe? Is that good for the health care for the community? And, I am not even mentioning the well-being and health of our one lone nurse.

We are now approaching our very busy mining exploration season with one nurse working 24/7 - is that safe? Is that good health care for those industrial workers who depend on excellent and prompt health care from what could possibly be life-threatening work related injuries?

We also have major hydro-electric construction activity in the area; again, a possible high risk activity. Are we providing good health care support for those workers?

We have ongoing logging and ship loading activities - both fairly high risk industrial activities. What can those workers expect with regards to health care if they are injured?

I had the very good fortune to be on the Board of Directors that existed in 1993 when our new hospital was built and commissioned. We built this hospital to care for our existing community at that time and for future needs as we could plan for them. We built our hospital with long-term care in mind; we built with geriatric care in mind. We built an excellent facility with long term goals and expectation.

What do we have now? A first-aid post that should be able to put temporary patches on and get the patient out to a real facility....if we're lucky! We don't have long-term care for our community. We don't have geriatric care for our elderly - our focus for them is to ship them off to some distant location where they have no local support.

I think our residents deserve a little better health care than what the trend seems to be.

I hope you will look at this issue and hopefully, attempt to get short term and long term issues addressed.
Dear Miss Unknown:
Comment by Janice Robinson on 25th May 2012
Our comments are on topic, and I see no one "raging" here about anything. The article reveals the lack of meaningful healthcare in Stewart. There is only one nurse there to serve the community, much like the situation on many reserves. Someone who lived in Stewart commented on that nurse's alleged lack of pro-social program delivery...... Rule number one in healthcare: DO NO HARM. Granted, it doesn't say what kind of harm, but I'm thinking holistically. All nurses know what that means. It does not matter if the nurse works twelve hour shifts. Heshe must abide by that rule, whether they work in Stewart, New York or Terrace.

Also, many Stewart residents come to Terrace for some medical conditions and Mills Memorial Hospital. Some commenters (myself included) have a little bit of knowledge and experience (good, bad and ugly) with staff and conditions at MMH.

A few commenters believe that Canada is civilized and progressive enough that healthcare should be offered equally to all matter where we live.

So, what's really your problem? You can tell us.
12 hour marathons
Comment by billbraam on 25th May 2012
I have personally witnessed nurses at MMH run 12 hour marathons with absolutely no breaks. At the start of their shifts they were very amicable but then as 10 and 11 eleven hours wore on they started to get 'a bit' worn down. WOW! I don't know how they do it but they have my utmost respect and admiration.
Getting a little off topic...
Comment by unknown on 24th May 2012
Interesting how this story somehow changed from one over-worked nurse in Stewart to raging on the healthcare at MMH....I would just like to say, put yourself in those nurses shoes for one day. I'd like to see you all work a 12hr shift as hard as they do and we will see if you still have this much complaining to do.
Comment by James Ippel on 22nd May 2012
An excellent comment Janice.

I have to have a certain procedure done about twice a year, sometimes more, sometimes less. For eight years I have had this done in the ER. A few weeks ago I went there and was told by the RN in no uncertain terms that this was not done in the ER. I politely pointed out to her that for the last eight years it has been done in the ER. She then snapped I needed the paperwork from Addmittance, and I told her there was no one at the desk. I know , she said, they will be back in 15 minutes. I did'nt bother waiting or going back that day, but waited till the next week, and had the fortune of not running into this LONG TIME and OVERDUE TO RETIRE nurse.
It is time the local ER tune in some of the older (longtime) nurses. They are not doctors, and when one attends the ER, he/she has enough problems without running into a cranky nurse to aggravate the already tense situation.

Having said that, in general, I have had excellent care when I needed to attend the ER, but it is always the bad actions that leave a rotten taste in your mouth...
Maggie Jo!
Comment by Janice Robinson on 22nd May 2012
Have you communicated with MMH yet? As a teenager, I was a Candy Striper there. As a longtime resident of this fair city, I got some MMH stories! As a youthful volunteer, one of my jobs was to go from room to room...refresh the water jugs, clean the bedside ashtrays, water patients' plants/flowers or throw them out if need be, and socialize with patients who wanted to talk with us. I smoked my first cigarette at the bedside of an adult male patient (Export Plain). We could also volunteer in the kitchen, shop, or sterilize operating room equipment/tools. We would challenge all new Candy Stripers to sneak into the morgue, and spend st least two minutes in there by themselves.

Fast forward to the 2000's. One of my best friends was suffering immeasurably due to multiple, historical abuses, injuries, incarceration, and the mistaken "permanent" apprehension of her children. By the time the provincial governments were able to act on that horrible mistake, her children were already "permanently" adopted by other people. She made Terrace her home, and eventually straightened this all out, and her kids came back to her.

But, in the interim, she sometimes would get discouraged, and engage in risky/suicidal behaviours. Her other friends would always call me, and I would jump into my truck, and go help save her from her grief and feelings of helplessness. She also had horrible and confusing experiences with educated, yet unqualified, personnel in "helping agencies,".. and in the local, jealousy-laden, petty, little theatre world (she is an actor). We would not, could not...let her give up. Being a healthcare professional, I knew when to take her to the hospital for assessment and/or necessary medical care.
Most hospital personnel are very caring, healing people. A dastardly few wouldn't make it in a vet's office! I could make a list of grievances here, but I will only give you a sample: An RN asked me, "Why don't you just leave her to her fate? You can't save her from herself. You can't make her want to live."

Maggie Jo. Please remind MMH staff that they are neither judges....nor does God go on vacation, and appoint any of them to fill in.

Again, I 'm with Janice on this one.
Comment by MaggieJo Johnson on 20th May 2012
I never EVER take advantage of the Health Care System - ever. I only attend the ER when it's deemed a true necessity cuz I know how much every ER visit costs our Health Care System.

That being said, 'might be an idea to send out to each BC Family an 'end of the year' notice of how much each family spent on the Health Care System each past year going to the ER. FYI, each ER visits costs anywhere from $200-$280+/visit. Hawo? There's the Health Nurse phone line, people.

For the rest of us to gossip about the Health Care Professionals in the interim? Yeah...not nice. Our Health Care Professionals are our saving grace, and they dedicate their professional lives in true form.

However...there ARE instances where the HC Professionals lack in their duty.

IE; Earlier this year I was in the ER with my daughter when she nearly fractured her arm after a most serious fall in the playground. It was a busy night. The poor ER staff were truly taxed. But, that's no reason to go about after a patient just exited by very LOUDLY yapping amongst Colleagues about how that last patient was in the ER due to alcohol withdrawal. Okay, the rest of us didn't need to know that about someone I know. Get my drift? Major FIPP Privacy breech here!

I'm kicking myself in hindsight that I really should'a approached those nurses to SHUT IT! Now, every time I see that gal in town, I know about her "condition".

Gee, thx alot :(

I'm with Janice on this one: Do No Harm.

(PS...It's still bugging I think I'll make a call to MMH about this.)
Re: Outside the box.
Comment by Janice Robinson on 20th May 2012
Weird! The way you allege nursing staff take their jobs for granted describes the disrespectful behaviour heaped upon some clients of health centres on many Indian reserves. I trudge to Terrace (for flu shots, etc.) to avoid offending staff, at our health centre, with my needs. One must be careful not to provoke their ire, or service is either denied or minimalized. No matter how sick, or rotten one feels, one must smile, and be careful not to sound like one's compromised medical condition affects one's chirpy self when at the health centre. Heaven forbid your pain/illness makes you feel a little cranky....

Disrespectful behaviour of health clientele is in direct conflict with the number one rule in healthcare: DO NO HARM.

If unwarranted client disrespect happens in your health centre, send a written report to the appropriate human at Northern Health, in Prince George.
Look Outside the Box
Comment by Michelle on 19th May 2012
Maybe part of the problem isn't the location or the $$$ maybe someone should look at the personnel that are at that Health Centre. Word spreads fast when patients are treated badly by permanent employees at this centre. Just my two cents.
I agree with Janice...
Comment by MaggieJo Johnson on 19th May 2012
God forbid the "white folks" are not served. The First Nations have been suffering for years in this regard, but as soon as the "white folk" are suffering...there's a press release.

That being said, there is alot of $$$ put forward to First Nations communities for just this type of reason. How the money is spent in the interim is often a lost mystery.

Either way...we're not a 3rd World Country where we can't tend to the needs of our own residents. SHAME on us for allowing our Country folk (white or First Nations) to suffer in this lack of Health-cared regard. Shame on us!
One nurse in Stewart.
Comment by Janice Robinson on 19th May 2012
Many residents of Canadian First Nations reserves understand how to adapt and adjust to this situation. The geographical situation of Stewart is comparable to Indian reserves. When Natives brought this to the attention of other Canadians, they were strongly advised to move if they didn't like it.

Maybe they will find a precious mineral (gold) somewhere close by Stewart, and doctors and nurses will be tripping over eachother to get there. Their husbands, and adult kids will also take the resulting jobs out of your hands. When the resources are exhausted, they all "will go back home."

Is the situation the same down the street, in Hyder, Alaska?
who is in charge
Comment by tom on 18th May 2012
The problem is no one is asking the right questions . who is in charge of whom is allowed to be a nurse in BC , Victoria or the college of nurses of BC ? Who is in charge of whom can be a doctor in BC , Victoria or the college of physicians of BC ? Does anyone believe that the millions of nurses and doctors that graduate from universities around the world every year would not swim , drive or fly to our shores to practice what they have been taught ? Is there anyone left that does not understand supply and demand ? Choke supply and demand gets expensive . The system is broken but not by demand . So why is it that demand is some how the problem ? Supply is the problem . If supply can not be met then why not fly demand to where demand can be met ? Or is globalization only for blue collar workers ?
You have support
Comment by Dave on 18th May 2012
From various sectors - as the resources flow from the north to the south already and much more in the near future there is already a strain on our health system with the added work force and industrial accident potential.
It has been addressed by local government to Northern Health and all the way to the Minister of Health and the Premier for a long time - gear up 'cause it's coming down the tubes.
The response - ?? - lack of $$$ and attraction and retention of health care professionals -
I sympathize with you, Stewart and the whole of the NW that has the potential to pour mega $$ into Provincial coffers - we need to keep the pressure on Victoria by any means available.