“I’m a single dad, I have two young kids to look after, and I haven’t been able to look after their health care needs in a year because I haven’t had a family doctor,” Brain said.
Brain is just one of what he says are 24,000 Fort St. John resident who don’t have a practitioner to go to when they’re ill.
Northeast Chief Operating Officer for Northern Health, Angela De Smit says Northern Health understands the frustration being felt within the community, and is open to engage in dialogue with concerned residents.
“Northern Health Authority is open to having some constructive, respectful conversation with members of the public about the current recruitment process, and the services, and what Northern Health Authority is working on to improve those services within our community,” De Smit said.
Meanwhile, the situation has led Brain, like many others, to make a certain judgment call when feeling under the weather; wait hours on end to be seen by a doctor in the hospital, or take care of the ailment at home and hope it will pass.
“If people go into the emergency ward for service or things that are not an emergency, that’s putting a drain on the emergency room resources,” Brain goes on to say. “None of that’s optimal. The whole situation is broken.”
De Smit says she acknowledges the pressure put on the emergency room as a result of increased unattached patients.
“When we do have a large number of unattached patients, it does put a strain on the emergency department,” De Smit said.
Brain says it’s the responsibility of Northern Health to provide better health care to north, seeing how that is their mandate, but he also has a question for the Premier. What is going to happen when the influx of general labours come into town to work on LNG projects?
“Never mind all the additional demands that are going to be put on the system by all these dudes that are going to come in to do the work that needs to be done to get the pipelines built…Never mind Site C…What’s going to happen when that guy puts a slice in his arm or falls down the stairs?” Brain asked rhetorically “…This is crazy. It’s absurd…They’re living in a fools paradise.”
Brain has his own ideas on how to fix the system, like lobbing for changes to the foreign worker program, or creating more incentives for recent graduates to come work in rural areas. But the bottom line, according to Brain, is that Northern Heath has yet to produce any positive changes.
Northern Health had recently celebrated the success of a new general practitioner coming to work in the Unattached Patient Clinic, but Brain says that gentlemen was already set to take over a position at the Medical Clinic.
“They poached that fellow from the Medical Clinic, he was scheduled to take over from a departing doctor,” Brain explained. “Well, now that he’s not taking over from that departing doctor, they actually created another 1,100 unattached patient by putting that doctor in the Unattached Patient Clinic.”
However, De Smit says that was not the case. In fact, she says it was the doctor’s decision to move into the Unattached Patient Clinic once he learned of the situation in Fort St. John.
“He decided to work in the unattached clinic once he heard about it, the type of care that it was going to provide, and decided that was a better fit for him…We did not poach him,” De Smit went on to explain.
Bottom line, according to Brian, is Fort St. John continues to drift further and further away from Universal Health Care, something every Canadian seems to hold close to their heart.
“The only thing I have in common with some of these people (signing the petition) is that neither of us have a family doctor and both of us hate it,” Brain concluded. “I’ve seen guys from all sorts of different ends of the political spectrum…They’re all coming together in this sort of grassroots revolt against what’s clearly an unacceptable situation.”