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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Health care system is complex

Digby Area Health Coalition
Digby Area Health Coalition - Contributed

The celebration of collaborative practice article presents citizens of the area with hope and optimism regarding our lived experience of gaining timely care in this rural place.

The Digby Area Health Coalition welcomes Doctors Bourget, Chang, LaPierre, and all new members of the professional staff at the Digby Clinic. They are to be commended for taking up the challenge and we do our best to support them in their work.

We advocate for transparency and positive change in the provision of health services in the Digby area. This is our mission based on what we were told when we talked with citizens, doctors and others in the Digby area. For many in the area, the health care system is hardly a system at all. Rather it is one in which people feel the ongoing frustration associated with lack of access to most crucially continuity of care. This may seem harsh but it is what we were told when we talked throughout the community. Transparency means being able to see clearly the working of, in this case, the health care system as it presents itself locally.

To be able to see something as complex as the health care system is perhaps not possible for ordinary citizens because of the multiple layers involved in something as grand as the Nova Scotia Health Authority. We confront the onion problem. Layer upon layer upon layer and each one needs peeling back until it is possible to see the situation from many angles. It is a big project to examine the layers. Each time we experience one of the system’s great reveals we have another window on what is happening. Looking through each window achieves this transparency. We get there by looking and looking again.

The celebration we are being offered is an echo of the hope and optimism previous clinic staff had when they arrived in Digby. To a person, previous doctors respected and admired their former, resilient patients. In fact, the word love is apt here in terms of how former staff described their relationship with their patients. Additionally, each spoke positively of the long serving doctors in the community. They too were full of enthusiasm for the future. Life’s circumstances, especially the challenges they faced inside the system, and bone deep exhaustion, carried them away. Each of them described Digby in much the same way as the new staff describe Digby.

Digby’s natural beauty is right up there with places like the meandering Bow River in Calgary, Garibaldi Park on the west coast of this huge country, or one of the neighbourhoods of Toronto’s Cabbagetown. Beauty is, as the saying goes, in the eye of the beholder. The world is a magnificent place wherever we look. And it is a troubled place, no matter where we look. Our point is, it makes no sense to market a place as if ours is somehow better than elsewhere. We are where we are. We are here.

Here, it is good to see those involved with the Health Authority are taking steps to make the situation in Digby more functional. We know the local authorities are listening. We know with

absolute certainty that additional human resources are required to guarantee that the new practitioners in the Digby area are supported by the system. From Weymouth to Bear River, to the Islands, and to Digby in between, citizens have a right to expect more from our government than a return to blithe cheerfulness and fragile foundations. As citizens we cheer from the sidelines but we do not control the conditions under which the medical staff work. On that front, it remains to be seen whether the cup is half full or half empty. For our part, we strongly support the good work and positive change signalled by your interviews with this round of new physicians and colleagues located at the Digby Clinic.

Tony N Kelly,

Co-ordinator Digby Area Health Coalition

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