Full house: Digby folk form health coalition to seek answers

Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier jriley@digbycourier.ca
Published on March 24, 2016
health coalition

Published on 24 March 2016

<p>Tony Kelly described a plan to figure out just what exactly has gone wrong with health care in Digby at the founding meeting of the Digby County Health Coalition March 23 at the Digby Legion.</p>

Photos by Jonathan Riley

health coalition

Published on 24 March 2016

<p>More than 160 people came out for the founding meeting of the Digby County Health Coalition at the Digby Legion on March 23.</p>

Photos by Jonathan Riley

health coalition

Published on 24 March 2016

<p>Joanne Mattinson shared her struggles with the health care system.</p>

Photos by Jonathan Riley

health coalition

Published on 24 March 2016

<p>Maxine Connell talked about her efforts to get a dialysis machine for the people of Digby.</p>

Photos by Jonathan Riley

health coalition

Published on 24 March 2016

<p>Joan O’Neil says she understands why young families hesitate to come to a town with such a lack of health care.</p>

Photos by Jonathan Riley

health coalition

Published on 24 March 2016

<p>Gwendolyn Wilson chaired the founding meeting of the Digby County Health Coalition March 23 at the Digby Legion.</p>

Photos by Jonathan Riley

health coalition

Published on 24 March 2016

<p>Tony Kelly suggested four aims for the health care coalition.</p>

Photos by Jonathan Riley

health coalition

Published on 24 March 2016

<p>More than 160 people came out for the founding meeting of the Digby County Health Coalition at the Digby Legion on March 23.</p>

Photos by Jonathan Riley

health coalition

Published on 24 March 2016

<p>“There is much work to be done,” said Tony Kelly at the founding meeting of the Digby County Health Coalition March 23 at the Digby Legion.</p>

Photos by Jonathan Riley

DIGBY – Area residents filled the Legion for a meeting about a citizen-led campaign to improve health care in Digby County.

More than 160 people came out for the founding meeting of the Digby County Health Coalition on March 23 to hear Tony Kelly describe a plan to figure out just what exactly has gone wrong so we can insist that government fix it.

Some were perhaps surprised to hear Kelly recite poetry, but those who know him were not.

I am so tired of waiting.

Aren’t you,

For the world to become good

And beautiful and kind?

Let us take a knife

And cut the world in two –

And see what worms are eating

At the rind.

He read the Langston Hughes poem to explain his strategy for finding out what has happened, what has gone right and what gone wrong with health care in Digby.

Among the worms he says we need to examine are the lack of doctors and the lack of medical staff willing to stay in Digby, difficulties with continuity of care, lack of access to care and long wait times, decline of care in Digby compared to neighbouring areas and the lack of transparency around recruitment and retention of staff.

Kelly suggested four main aims for the coalition:

- to tell the story of the decline of health services in Digby from 2005 to 2016

 - to insist the provincial government provide a public audit of the health authority’s ongoing failure to properly staff local health care institutions

 - to shed light on the failure to recruit and retain health care professionals

 - to advocate for citizen informed solutions to the ongoing problem of the erosion of health care.

Peter Janson opened the meeting and introduced the meeting’s chair, Gwendolyn Wilson.

Wilson asked for volunteers to join the coalition’s core committee. They specifically were looking for someone to coordinate the collection of stories, someone to read and interpret policy documents, someone financial statements, someone to work on a webpage and someone to handle social media.

They also asked for people to volunteer for the guiding council with Wilson, Janson and Kelly.

Kelly says he expects to report back to the community in about three weeks on the progress they have made in forming the coalition and preparing to gather information.

“There is much work to be done and I hope we can, through research and local action, shine a very bright light on our troubles and work together to improve the situation here in this place,” said Kelly.

jriley@digbycourier.ca