It’s tempting to cry wolf when your local hospital emergency department has to shut down due to a shortage of staff. Some people gave in quickly to that temptation when the emerg. had to close briefly on Aug. 11/12.

It’s definitely worrying. What if it happens when somebody’s life needs saving, just when the doors are closed?

People in Wabasca and Swan Hills and lots of other small towns have been asking exactly that question, having experienced these incidents already.

Then there’s that three-month wait for a doctor’s appointment. Troubling as well.

Meanwhile, diligent recruitment efforts, we’re told, continue.

The problem seems to arise from a combination of factors. One is not enough people willing to slave away in the nursing profession. It is stressful enough at the best of times, we’re told, and when you’re doing all sorts of overtime, plus encountering occasional hostility from a disgruntled public…..

Another factor is that not enough of those who are willing to put up with that are interested in or willing to work outside the big population centres.

Fair enough. Those would be stiff enough obstacles. But on top of all that you’ve got ever-growing public expectations. What our parents put up with, or grandparents, in the way of health care access is just not acceptable to most of us. We want it all, and we want it right now.

And if possible, we want somebody else to pay for it. And if we don’t get it, we can get very nasty. This grumpiness was probably always a part of the story, but it has been very much amplified by the reach of social media.

Immoderate language has an effect, and it isn’t a good one.

So if you add all that up, it’s a daunting prospect. It’s not hard to imagine a person who might have been contemplating a career in nursing choosing something less stressful.

What to do about it? For starters, it always helps to be patient and encouraging. It costs little and can make a big difference.

Of course it’s no use counselling patience to somebody with a critical condition who can’t get an appointment or who finds the doors locked.

Government can certainly do something about it by better compensating nurses.

If nothing else works, there’s at least a partial answer in recruiting from abroad. This is happening, but it could happen a lot more. Raiding other countries of their health care professionals might be a tad mercenary, but needs must, as they say.

Another factor in the mix is that people with money will find their health care elsewhere, if the current system here at home doesn’t deliver what they want. When the best health care money can buy is just next door, people who can afford it will go there. They probably already are.

The rest of us have to just put up with what the system is able to deliver.

This item copyrighted by / Lakeside Leaader   Slave Lake, Alberta

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