Wednesday, July 17, 2024
Healing Health Care in the Pontiac

You and I and our health

Well, it seems that there was a need in our great newspaper for a column on health care in the Pontiac and I was invited to try my hand. So, before I sat down to write this, I asked myself what exactly is a column?
I do love my Google for things like that. I particularly like the definition provided by Debrah Jefferson at Wisconsin University: “A column is not a news article, but it is news. It generally answers why and how. It often is personal, using the first and second person (I and you). A column often states an opinion.’’
So, this is what this column will be like, my thoughts on the whys and hows, from the good to the not-so-good of health care and social services in the Pontiac. Without further ado, here is the first instalment of this column: You and I and our health.
Health, for the longest time was defined as an absence of sickness. What a strange definition, but fortunately the World Health Organization (WHO) revised it. As WHO sees it, health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
In the Pontiac, we were lucky to have a system that enabled us to regain that state of well-being. Unfortunately, when amalgamation occurred in 2015, our system changed, some would say not for the better. The process was to take in 60 facilities (CLSCs, hospitals, child protection agencies (DPJ), etc.) and roll them into one organization, now known as CISSSO.

So, where do we stand in 2022? We have all seen the degradation of our services. Obstetrics ‘’temporarily closed’’ since 2016. Nurses leaving for better paying jobs in Ontario with remaining nurses being forced into overtime.
Many people finding themselves without a family doctor as our veteran doctors retire. Not enough professionals (respiratory and physical therapists, etc.) to maintain services while they take much deserved vacations and, this summer, agency workers coming to work double shifts to provide much needed rest to many workers. It’s a far cry from the quality of services we were used to before 2015.
Yes, the pandemic has put a lot of strain on our services, but our wonderful workers, professionals and doctors are working hard to maintain and improve the quality of services and care, but getting answers to questions, making requests and offering suggestions for improvement all fall on deaf ears. And that is not surprising when you realize that the one deputy director who is responsible for the Pontiac Hospital is also in charge of Wakefield Memorial Hospital, Maniwaki Hospital and Papineau Hospital. Getting our voices, our concerns and our needs heard in meetings of 16 directors for services, plus two other directors (one for each of the Hull and Gatineau Hospitals), is far from ideal.
In my humble opinion, our Pontiac health system is in dire straits with incredible and dedicated workers trying to maintain quality of services with little support. The population of the Pontiac is behind them, but it is so hard to be patient when your health, or that of a loved one, is in jeopardy.
Will services improve in the next few years? Will elections promise to bring us some needed answers? I guess that will be the subject for another time.

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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