At the age of 19, some incredible nurses, orderlies and interns taught me to do much of what is conventional nursing practice. Over 3 summers as a summer student, I honed skills that I did not know I had nor could I imagine developing. Procedurally, I removed stitches and clamps after surgery, prepared patients for surgery, replaced dressings, inserted and replaced foley catheters, helped with application of casts under the careful tutelage of great doctors, did bowel care, helped with patient mobilization, went on the ambulance to retrieve people in distress either heart attacks, strokes, or motor vehicle accidents. The list included all the basics of toileting, bathing, preparing for surgery, and more. As a bonus, I got to work in the morgue as well, honing some other skills.
When employed for a fourth summer in another hospital in another province, I gave total care, except for drugs, to a person who was palliative then got assigned total care for others later on. Never, for a minute, did I think this was work restricted to females. As a matter of fact, I got much job satisfaction in seeing things done well, patient’s needs met, doctors and nurses happy with my care, and families who thanked me for caring for their loved one.
By now, there is no doubt about the provincial government’s commitment to health and long-term care reform. Heaven knows, it has been promised with volumes written about it for 10 years or more. To persons “on the street”, to ordinary physicians, to employees and their representatives the question remains: What? Where? When? How? Who? By now, journalists should be seeing a pattern of change and the course of reform should be clear. They are not!
I have searched for answers as to why so slow? Why does the obvious require years? The issues of the ALC patients in hospital have been obvious for many years yet there they are, occupying highly expensive beds needed to accommodate the huge backlog in surgical cases postponed largely due to the pandemic. When you think you are seeing progress in moving a few to long term care, a new group come through the Emergency Department and back to square one all over again.
Ken McGeorge, BS,DHA,CHE is a career health care executive based in Fredericton, NB, Canada.