As we begin the new year, let us hope we will see some improvement to our health services. Since deciding to start my article with this wish, things have been moving along. First, the head of CISSSO has been replaced by an interim. And, second, talks between the federal and provincial governments are progressing towards a 10 year agreement involving some revenue increases over that period, a much-needed influx of money to an overwhelmed system.
But shortage of money is not the only problem with the health system that needs to be addressed. We have all heard sad stories over the Christmas break. A patient in the hospital waiting room, having been seen by three ER staff, dying from a burst appendix. A cancer patient in remission, lying on the floor of a waiting room vomiting, and only then being admitted, and eventually diagnosed with pneumonia. The daughter of a sick, elderly parent sitting in an overcrowded ER, told the wait would be more than 10 hours before they would be seen by a doctor because the patient’s condition was ‘not that urgent.’
Instead of being instructed to go to the hospital can we have more? When the money comes in, can we have more home care for long term patients who suffer from long term diseases? Can we have health professionals who act as a navigator, who knows all about the condition of a fragile patient recovering from cancer treatments, major operations, etc., so when a patient is not feeling well they do not get told to go to the ER because there is no alternative? Can we have some other way of getting care even if we are a low priority case?
So, in 2023, I have a few wishes . . .
My first wish is for the newly-appointed head of Pontiac Territory for Health Services, Mme Nicole Boucher-Larivière – a wonderful person who knows the Pontiac well – to be able to make changes that will improve our services. I also wish for her to be successful in getting our obstetrics unit reopened. She will need all of our support to attain that goal as CISSSO is under tutorship and will possibly revise many targets.
My second wish is to get substantial pay increases (from that federal money) for our nurses in Québec and particularly in the Outaouais. They are undervalued professionals who pull more than their weight, yet who always seem to be the last ones to get to pay day in the negotiations. May they be allowed to use all of their skills and knowledge to care for patients, and be able to organize their work schedules to have more balanced work and family time.
My third wish is for all of us to take steps to remain as healthy as possible thus giving a break to our wonderful health workers who are still under tremendous pressure from the pandemic and staff shortages. You have been and remain our heroes for all you do.
Josey Bouchard is a teacher, municipal councillor, volunteer on the Board of Directors of the Pontiac Agriculture Society and spokesperson for Pontiac Voice, a health services advocacy group in the Pontiac.
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