Caring for our Health Care system is a complex, multi-faceted task, just as caring for our own health is. While having a consistent relationship with a family doctor is essential, there are many resources, beyond family doctors, that we might access to support our health and our family’s health. In the same way, a healthy Health Care system is best achieved when decision makers think more broadly, more holistically, and, above all, more sustainably; when they look beyond the usual short term or singular remedies.
At the public forum on Health Care in Montague last week, I asked Minister Mitchell what plans his department had, beyond doctor recruitment, to ensure sustainable (long term) and accessible acute care for Islanders. I wasn’t the only person at the forum asking that question. The response we were given was that the government is busy recruiting - a confusing response after Minister Mitchell’s comment that if physicians indicate they would like to come to rural PEI then the community needs to step up to sell the job like a tour operator sells the Island to a tourist.
There was wisdom in that room last week, and that wisdom sadly seemed to go unnoticed. I found the simple, short-sighted solutions and cries for more of the same coming from politicians to be devaluing and disrespectful of the intelligent, resourceful and invested people in the room. Community members spoke of the relationship between health, business, education, and rural development, while Minister Mitchell stayed solidly within his silo, commenting at one point that his thing isn’t Education, it’s Health. Community members spoke of collaborative models and going beyond the same old, same old solutions for the challenges in acute care. They offered solutions, identified problems with professional territoriality, pointed out when the statistics being offered were inaccurate or misleading, and concerningly, spoke of the lack of consultation with frontline health workers and community members. The same old reactive approach to addressing health care shortfalls came from both the red and blue parties, and as someone who was there to listen and learn from the community, I tend to believe my frustration is shared.
Community members have ideas, see the interplay between all aspects of life and community, know their needs best, and above all, want health for their families. Good solutions - long term, sustainable solutions - will come from good, open, and honest dialogue with Islanders. I did not see the opportunity for that last Wednesday night, but I did see the desire.