A serial psychopathic corporate killer on the loose…
Once, far from the big city, there was a small town filled with industrious and independent people. These good people believed in a good mind in a healthy body. So they saw to it that all their children went to school and had good teachers. They built the finest of libraries. They also made playing fields and built skating rinks and a hockey arena so that they and their children might have fresh air and exercise. The parents and elders loved music and art, so formed orchestras and bands and fostered writing and drama and art.
Creativity thrived. The people designed aeroplanes and the world’s first parachute was tested above this small town. A mushroom-shaped water tower, home made, sprouted all over the world—a new and better symbol. The people were loyal citizens and patriotic; they formed a militia and built an armoury. But they loved peace. So up went a great bridge for peace across the water.
And so it went with these wise, farsighted people, one advancement after another. Their young excelled and some went on to great things in one and all of these things—in sports, the military, as priests, in business, the law, medicine, science, the arts and learning.
But the good people didn’t stop there. They wanted a place to help their doctors treat their sick and save lives. They wanted a place better than an old house to birth babies. They wished to encourage outsiders to come in and their young to come back. With the help of the doctors they built a hospital. It was far in advance of its time. It flourished and paid for itself. Even old people from the city were moving to this welcoming place with all of its amenities. For many, many years Americans flooded into the area for the hot sand and blue summer waters. They felt safe in case of accident or illness as the hospital treated all comers alike—and well. Like the town elders, the doctors were of the best, skilled and resourceful. And all visitors and citizens knew it.
The Americans knew it so well that they sent their young doctors in training to this small town hospital, to its fine emergency room, to learn. They learned how a small town cares for its injured and sick. And they taught the local people (and doctors) new ways of looking at things.
All was going well…
And then a chilling shiver arrived. In the midst of all this accomplishment and wellbeing, there came one day a gothic bureaucrat, from a nearby, poorly planned place, who thought (and schemed): We want this hospital. We’ll take from it to balance our losses. We’ll explain it as progress. We’ll impose the big-city prefabricated plan on these country bozos and call it enlightened. They wont know it’ll never fit. Ha! …A serial psychopathic corporate killer was on the loose.
And so came the beginning of the end. The small town’s hospital was stolen, ‘incorporated’ into a wide network of failing facilities scattered far afield. Bit by bit it was dismembered. First to go was the small children’s ward. Now sick children, admitted to places far away for treatment, could no longer be visited daily by their parents and grandparents. Little children terrified with simple croup must suffer alone in fear in the midst of total strangers. (Incidentally, the first hometown doctor to close paediatric shop and work over the way in the USA still lives here and writes this.) Next to go was birthing. No more children were ever to be born in their own home town again. The town’s very birthright was callously hijacked. It goes on. Gradually and deceptively, all advanced and hard-won services dwindled or were torn away. No more intensive care to treat people with heart attacks. Young people with simple fractures must go far afield. Even old people with pneumonia were banished to distant hospital wards. And many have died all alone.
Now the beautiful hospital is a shell of its former self. Now, amazingly, you have to pay to park next to it. It’s the only paying parking lot in town—a testimony to bureaucratic mindless stupidity and utter and complete greed. Soon the emergency room, and ambulances, will be gone. The wide area that pounced on the small hospital is devoid of public transportation. Sick people without any car will soon be dying in their homes or on the street. Even people travelling to distant hospitals (termed as ‘sites’ by the crass unfeeling bureaucrats) will be dying en route in their relatives’ cars.
The end of this horror story does not have to be sorrier yet. Do not leave ‘the end’ to just happen. Don’t leave it all up to others. Show that you have the same foresight, verve and gumption that your forebears 75 years ago had. The Nazi-clone bureaucrats need not win. Turn the page. Do a thing or two on your own…
The small town: Fort Erie ON Canada
Today’s date: March 24, 2009
The clock is ticking…
On September 28, 2009 the Niagara Health System (NHS) shut down the Douglas Memorial Hospital (DMH) emergency department. All ambulances with ‘real’ emergencies on board are being diverted to far away places. (Only ambulances with non-emergencies are allowed to stop at DMH. Think on that paradox!)
This means that this once excellent small general hospital is now essentially an old folks’ home with an attached walk-in clinic for cuts and bruises. It’s called a site, a ‘UCC’ (whatever that is?). Thus, there is no nearby hospital for tourists and visitors (mostly Americans who summer in the area) to turn to in case of serious illness or injury. It also means that the town’s own time-critical medical-surgical-obstetrical and other emergencies, real people, young and old alike, with open fractures, haemorrhage’s, strokes, heart attacks, overdoses, and the like, will be picked up at home in Fort Erie, and bypass what was once their old home town hospital. Thirty thousand people without a hospital! Some will be unnecessarily dying in ambulances en route to Niagara Falls and Welland hospitals that are too far away for safety. Paramedics cannot handle many of these time-critical emergencies. If they survive the time-consuming trip, completely medically un-stabilized, there is a good likelihood that, because of the delayed starting of certain well known time-critical treatments, these Fort Erie patients may suffer serious complications or be left with permanent disabilities.
Many citizens fought hard in the belated battle to keep the Fort Erie DMH (and its ER) intact. But too many people, including most local doctors, sat back apathetically and did nothing. The local Mayor was sweet-talked and suckered by NHS. Being a jeweller by trade, he gave in for an ersatz H-sign (that has no meaning) to be left like a big blue jewel on the building’s roof. His right-hand man got himself an NHS (LHIN) sweetheart deal that makes him CEO of a local CHC (Community Health Centre) that is slated by government to eventually take over family doctors’ practises in the area.
NHS’ lay, non-medical bureaucrats callously ignored this medical writer’s warnings about their creation of a situation that ignores time-critical emergencies. Each in-transit death that occurs will be a suspect NHS-produced death-artifact.
The NHS and the ON Liberal Government (with its LHINs and P3 private big-money partners) won their very cruel and stupid battle against small town and rural people. But there is a provincial election slated in two years. Can doctors, finally working together, have a new-found impact? Will the coroners hold all three padded layers of bureaucrats (local bean-counters, the P3 money-partners, ON Health Ministry) responsible for unnecessary ‘time-critical’ deaths? Will another, different government really roll back these outlying and rural disasters to Canada’s Medicare? We’ll all soon see.
A Braying New World
This is not the same profession I entered more than 60 years ago. For instance, the other day I read of a young GP, working as ‘window-dressing’ in a government Community Health Centre. He was quoted as saying, “We prefer to refer to them (patients) as clients.” I suppose that’s alright if you want to be a ‘kept’ physician: to punch a clock and sit on a social service committee. But there was a day when doctors were prepared to make life or death decisions at all hours and build their own teams to do so. And then, today I read a CBC headline claiming that the majority of specialists in Quebec support euthanasia. That shocks! We swore an oath to save lives when possible, to cure diseases and fix injuries if able, or control the un-curable problems otherwise, try to relieve pain and suffering during life, and at the end, if nothing else can be done, to console. How things change! Hippocrates admonished us to ‘do no harm.’ Murder by any other name is deadly harm. I mention these news reports and old-time principles as a lead-up to the fact that medical ethics are now decidedly different. A communal shift of values under Medicare has taken focus away from the individual. And, to complicate things even further, a political and business managerial set of priorities has seriously contaminated the whole field. Those cruel bureaucrats are prepared, not only to dismember hospitals, but also to kill people if they think it might pay.
During the last year, while campaigning with other concerned citizens – most of them elderly – to save a small outlying hospital from being wrecked by our own Ministry of Health, I sadly watched most of the local doctors in Niagara’s southern tier (who also stood to lose it) aligning like frightened sheep with the very bureaucrats that were taking it away, helping to dismantle their own workplace! As goes the old Whiffenpoof Song – baa baa baa. But, admittedly, those isolated, sheepish doctors had to contend with three layers of lay mis-managers – at NHS, LHIN and Ministry levels – all pervasively steered by the big money of P3 private partners. While many doctors have saved more than a few lives, it’s a sad and disgraceful truism that lay medical managers can’t save a single dollar. The local doctors also had to deal with a silly mayor (a jeweller by trade) selling them out, and everyone else for that matter, for a useless blue H-sign sitting like some symbolic jewel on the roof of the town’s dismembered, defunct former hospital. An H-sign as the jewel in a political hacks crown! The fundamental facts, however sneakily disguised by government, are these: Canada’s once fine Medicare is being bit by bit dismantled as such and privatized, with the inept help of corrupt bean-counting consultants. Corrupt consultants galore! The present ‘bottom line’ is goods and money at any cost, not people and service. And the ‘outer display’ is an obfuscating form of offencive PR. This latter, to me, is one of the most disgusting of changes to hit medicine. Medicine traditionally gained its worldwide acclaim through quiet, steady, hard work in research or in long hours of practise. An individual doctor’s reputation has always been modest, and passed on by word of mouth. The new business-type PR braggadocio is an alien intrusion, a cultural assault by business bureaucrats on the good name of medicine. At the local level, for example, the LHIN and NHS lay bureaucratic mis-managers bray like jackasses about their ‘future-great’ non-achievements. Their doublespeak is ‘1984’ alive. And the populace, used to this snake-oil salesmanship, eats it up.
In recent months, I’ve tried to recruit a core group of doctors concerned about the lay mismanagement of medicine and Medicare. It is notable that doctors, of all professionals, have virtually no say in the practical running of their own work. Teachers still have a role in schools and boards of education as principals and directors. Lawyers and judges still man the ramparts of the legal-correctional system. Even social workers, to some extent, look after their own bailiwick. But, doctors have been pushed out or opted out. Out of hospitals in particular and into lowly, government-run community ‘health’ outfits. Watch and you’ll see how more and more young doctors serve ‘allied health care workers’ in these odd ‘client’ centred concoctions. A connected issue: For decades there’s been a ‘rivalry’ between ‘continuity of care’ as assured by general practitioners and family doctors and more ‘focused centres of excellence’ as developed by specialists. Both focus and continuity are important. The generalists held their own for a long time. But, they were eased out of the medium sized hospitals and recently given a death sentence by closure of smaller outlying hospitals. Now, all patients feel lost in a brainless bureaucratic system. Patients lost and doctors divided. It’s a bureaucratic mess – the worst I’ve seen in all of my professional life. Doctors’ official organizations are toothless tools of government and have failed to rescue them from the mess. The attempt to rescue the patients from it by means of electronic records has ended so far in vicious government consultant scandals. It was my hope that a new group of doctors (along with some key nurses and pharmacists) might tool up as a medical professionals’ tripod, eventually to wield influence. The first objective was to halt this alien invasion of the empty-headed lay-manager medicine snatchers. I’m embarrassed to report that recruitment ground to a halt with only a half dozen doctors, including two advisers from outside the region. But the ideal and idea is not dead – it is merely stalled, awaiting a remedy by the right leaders at the ripe moment.
So, what do we have? Money-hungry big business bankrolling self-serving conveniently-blind politicos overseeing their own corrupt, braying, bureaucratic jackasses herding a new breed of medical sheep. It all boils down to secretive politicians deceiving impotent taxpayers.
Taking all into account, at 78, I am about to go back into retirement. I’ll be inactive but available as an adviser of sorts. This ‘braying new world’ is not for any self-respecting, independent old doctor to fight, it’s for the young sheep to nibble on. Bon appetite et au revoir mes amis !!!
NHS – a psychopathic corporation