Monday, April 4, 2011

Comment in Response to 'Glimpse into the Arctic'

I posted the Globe and Mail article on my FB page and received some insightful and interesting comments as a result.

One comment was from a phenomenal Nurse Practitioner, Dana, whom I worked with years ago in Victoria--one of the nurses who inspired me to adventure North in the first place. I should really do a series of posts just on her because lordy the woman was not only one of the smartest people I've had the pleasure to work with, but also one of the most hilarious. Pretty sure if she and my friend Janet worked in the same ED the universe would spin off its axis and all disease would finally be stamped out for good. In all seriousness though, she has truly seen the spectrum of health services in this country and I am more than happy to provide a platform for her to shout from.

I asked for permission to post her comments here and she granted it. See below. 

Then the clincher to this whole thing in my career is I started going to Northern makes Nunavut look good.

I recently went to a place called Wasagamac (look at the youtube video that says "Housing Crisis in Wasagamac") Anyway a population of about 2000. 2 working nurses and an NIC that is strictly admin. 85% of the population IDDM out of control, approx 40-50 born per year. Usually 15-20 residents per shanty, most have no source of heat, incredibly sick babies (with 2 nurses), tons of pathology in these kids, several with mickey tubes for feed, tons of rickets, no access except by boat so no medivacs at night, of course addiction and violence out of control, no RCMP detachment, the closest is in Garden Hill and only water accessible in day light hours. 

The price of a cucumber in January was 7.12. 

I had PTSD when I got out. I had treated a baby daily for RSV, grunting resps, RR of 80 blah blah. Unable to get her out. NIC states she is not the sickest, has been like that since birth and we will continue to treat her in community. I call Wpg, the ER doc screams at me that Health Sciences in not on contract anymore due to non payment from Northern Medical (a government agency that doesn't pay bills promptly) so they will not accept anymore medivacs until the bills are paid....Yells and rants at me on the phone and tells me it sucks to be me cause he isn't accepting. medivacs will not come without an accepting physician....

The GP that I am suppose to call says "ya thats the way it is just do your best." It is so unbelievable and I am so throughly disgusted I cancelled my next contract and am NEVER returning north, especially to Manitoba. 

Anyway watch the video if you have a moment and spread the word. Health Canada made me sign an agreement that I would not discuss conditions...huh? I came out of there after 15 years of northern nursing with PTSD and total exhaustion....on call constantly and worked 24/7 pretty much. Pay check for 2 weeks was over 10,000 net, so not worth it and just all wrong...And politicians want to talk about 2 tier health??????

We work with the sickest population both mentally and physically with no resources or diagnositcs and make a responsible diagnosis then arrange for appropriate treatment? An impossible job. These folks are at great risk. Hell no one even expects any advanced practice or experience anymore.

How can this be Canada? I have been from Beaver Creek (Yukon and most westerly community in Canada), to Cape Spear NFLD (most easterly) to Grise Fjiord all in one year as well as everywhere in between. I have been doing outpost in all 3 territories and Man. since 1995. It is appalling and gets worse every year. I have seen things that keep me awake at night. The problem is the situation gets worse and worse and worse...


I recommend watching the short documentary she mentions. I would say 'unbelievable' but I have seen similar situations in the North and sadly it is much too believable. I wish I could say what some solutions might be to all of this, but I have no idea where to even start, except to bring some attention and awareness to what is happening in these communities. The realities these people are living should not be acceptable to Canadians. 


NPO said...

I spent a good part of my life in Canada, but all within 100 miles of the 49th parallel. Northern Canada, reservations and many isolated settlements have these problems described by your friend and it's sad.

Many Americans have this utopia view of Canada and the health care system, but this is what they do not see or hear about.

Bless your friend for her years of service to those who really need it.

James said...

As NP said, I, as an American, had no idea this was what it could be like. Maybe its not so bad here after all.

Anonymous said...

I too have worked in a northern community (not in healthcare, though I do have some stories about that), and also suffered from a near-breakdown by the end of it.

IMO, the only way to solve this problem is to move away from the reservation model of Aboriginal living. These small communities, isolated from any semblance of infrastructure, simply do not have the means to sustain themselves without large cash infusions from the government (and see how well that's worked before). [This is part of a longer diatribe I have about these communities, but I figured I'd spare your readers my verbal diarrhea]

Cartoon Characters said...

I had a friend while in Ktown who would do Northern Nursing stints.

I don't know what the answer is. It seems that most of the money goes to the highly populated areas.

I get to communicate to patients in isolated communities in BC but have never heard anything about what the other RN is describing.

That is so tragic. It's almost like the 1800's but worse because of the addition of alcohol.

I wouldn't go as far as saying what the USA has is better (Threehills statement)because there are just as tragic things going on in the back hills of Kentucky that I have seen...