That was the headline of a CBC story carried on the news on June 5, 2020; the story went on to discuss the issue of inadequate home care in New Brunswick as illustrated by the case of Paul Ouellet’s sister, Lorette. And the issues of inadequate funding of home care in New Brunswick were well documented in the Council on Aging Report.
In the story, the health authorities’ position of “move long term care to health” was recited again by Karen McGrath, CEO of Horizon, in which it was noted that she has been asking for structural change for two years. The structural change referred to is to move long term care to the Department of Health or to the health authorities, the theory being that somehow that would improve the flow of persons requiring long term care more smoothly and expeditiously. This is also a position taken strongly by unions.
Oh, that it was all that simple. However, achieving reform of long-term care in New Brunswick requires significant change at deeper levels; otherwise, we are just “moving the chairs on the deck of the Titanic”. New Brunswick has wasted countless tens of millions of dollars in executing “restructurings” that were not well thought out. Ask any veteran of NP Power for a few illustrations!
The Telegraph Journal editorial in the June 6 edition is “bang on” in terms of issues in Health and Long-Term Care. Recent publicity in response to the unanticipated outbreak in the Campbellton Region drives home the issues of the need for health and long-term care reform much documented and written about for a decade in New Brunswick.
At the heart of this is leadership and communication. New Brunswick has many stellar health and long-term care professionals; people like Jennifer Russell, Linda LeBlanc, Cindy Donovan, Chris Goodyear and thousands of others. Each wonderful professional that I know is dedicated to utilizing the terrific training and experience that they have had over many years and decades.
But as our late Chief of Staff at DECRH, Don Morgan, used to say: “we all see the health world from where we stand.” That observation was made as we were in the midst of one of several major controversies during the regionalization of hospitals in 1992.
As the weeks and months have dragged on and as the public becomes increasingly anxious about basic issues in our society, it is increasingly important to sort out reality from perception. The outbreak in Campbellton is disturbing, aggravating, and disappointing. It illustrates clearly that the best laid plans often can get sidetracked by undisciplined behavior.
Nationally and internationally, the attention has turned to Long Term Care and legitimately so. Chris Selley, in his National Post article of May 27, “Shameful Nursing Home Report Shows How Canada’s Lockdown Strategy Went Wrong”. In the article he refers to recent reports from the federal government, Ryerson University’s Institute on Ageing that make it clear that the Covid-19 risk is very high amongst those of us over 60 who live in long-term care.
Based on analysis, his conclusion is that “Canadians who aren’t elderly or in long-term care homes have faced a risk of death that’s no worse than the 2009 H1N1 outbreak.” His article goes on to underscore that the vast majority of people infected by the virus do, in fact, survive and do well.
Ken McGeorge, BS,DHA,CHE is a career health care executive based in Fredericton, NB, Canada.