Just as people were beginning to believe that the NSHA could not inflict further damage upon the provinceâ€™s health-care system, that illustrious body has managed to outdo itself.
This faceless bureaucracy, for whom no one seems to be responsible or accountable, essentially forced the transfer of the laboratory technician from Buchanan Memorial Hospital (BMH) in Neilâ€™s Harbour to Halifax and then proceeded to announce that this very well-trained and competent individual would not be replaced.
Meanwhile, this same authority continues to make life extremely taxing for the hospitalâ€™s X-ray technician. The effects of its actions, unless checked, will result in the closure of the hospitalâ€™s lab facility and the subsequent loss of related medical services.
To fully comprehend the magnitude of harm of these decisions, one needs only to examine the community north of Cape Smokey, think about the continued decline of rural Nova Scotia, and recall parts of the Ivany report.
Buchanan Memorial Hospital serves all the communities from Cape Smokey north to Big Interval, Capstick, Cape North, and Bay St. Lawrence. It is an area that is economically stable with a solid fishery, sustainable forestry, and a tourism industry that has become self-sustaining. It is a community for all seasons, with access to incredible scenery, extensive hiking trails, world-class golf, deep-sea fishing, cross-country and downhill skiing, winter and summer camping, and snowmobiling.
Cultural centres, museums, Celtic music, and local festivals are all integral components of the fibre of these communities. Excellent policing, volunteer fire departments that are the equal of any in the province, and modern schools with competent staffs all give definition to this area.
Traffic gridlocks are non-existent and residents do not feel the need to lock their doors. North of Smokey is not only stable, but it has become a settlement area for retirees and for young families who are opening new businesses. Bound by mountains on both ends, it is a clearly defined socio-economic area, and like other areas across the province, it is experiencing the need to recruit new doctors for the near future. Two of the three doctors in the community have given lifetime service and, upon retirement, will have to be replaced. To this end, the BMH Charitable Foundation has established a recruitment and retention committee to find new staff and to show those remaining staff members how much they are valued. The hospital, with its medical staff and its lab and X-ray departments, is the linchpin of this community.
And now, into this well-defined geographical area that is currently enjoying an economic resurgence, where the most serious medical problem is the impending doctor retirements, comes the NSHA. It proceeds to create a problem where none existed, proposing a plan that is more expensive, not less, and which causes a serious reduction in the quality of health care. This the NSHA did without any consultation. Had it consulted with the communities north of Smokey, the catastrophic nature of the repercussions would have become known to them.
These faceless bureaucrats, who want to replace the lab tech with a machine and transfer blood by courier twice a day to Sydney, either did not read the Ivany report or, if they did, failed to understand it. The vulnerability of rural Nova Scotia was one of the key themes in that report. The NSHA does not seem to be able to connect the dots â€” ill-considered policies can and do have serious consequences.
Simply put, if they close the lab, which has been at the hospital for more than 60 years, it may not be possible to recruit new doctors who want to engage in best practices. If we have no doctors, retirees will not come to the area and those here will not risk staying. Ambulances will be forced out of the area for prolonged periods of time. Those families with young children will not want to move here and so school enrolment will decline. Investors will not support the area because they will have no staff, and so it goes. Such policy decisions will add to the continued decline of rural Nova Scotia â€” a trend that the Ivany report was trying to reverse.
People of all political persuasions have the right and the duty to be upset over the actions of the NSHA. When examining the authorityâ€™s decisions, you realize that those who have described bureaucracy â€” the rule of no one â€” as modern-day despotism may well be right.
Earle Tubrett lives in Ingonish.