Wednesday, March 02, 2016

The Parable of the Rural Hospital

As published in the Citizen-Record on Wednesday, March 2, 2016, by Sara Jewell.

June Masters with her almost-healed arm.
 The fight is on to save the hospital in Pugwash, and now that her arm is on the mend, June Masters of Oxford is coming out swinging in support.

A few weeks ago, June landed on my doorstep with a story to tell me, a story about an injury and a small hospital in rural Nova Scotia.
In January, she burned her right arm badly while attempting to make French fries at home with just a pot and oil.
“The result was a second-degree burn on my right arm,” she said, adding that she doesn’t recommend that method to anyone. “I called friends of mine and they took me to the hospital in Pugwash. The nurses took me right in and treated me. You never have to wait there.”
The community surrounding the North Cumberland Memorial Hospital has been waiting since 2010 for the fulfillment of the promise to renovate and upgrade the hospital. The lack of modernization is affecting the area’s ability to attract and keep doctors.
“We’ve been using the hospital since 1994 and between my two daughters and myself, we’ve always had the best care,” June told me. “The staff is wonderful.”
She planned to attend the town hall presentation on March 1, which occurred after the deadline for this column. She is one of many who want to the hospital in Pugwash to remain open.

But it’s not enough for the 50-year-old hospital to stay open; it must become viable. That’s why the government needs to honour the promise of a new health care facility.
Otherwise, Pugwash is going to suffer the same fate as Wentworth and River John.
At church this past Sunday, we talked about the parable of the unfruitful fig tree. The owner of the tree was upset that it had yet to produce any fruit so he told his gardener to cut it down. The gardener replied, “Give it one more year. I’ll dig around it and add fertilizer.”

This is the perfect analogy for hub school and hospitals.
The provincial government does very little to support community initiatives in rural areas yet expects those initiatives to flourish without extra help. The people who live and do business in rural areas ask for one more year and some resources in order to make it happen.
Yet what happened to the hub schools effort? What happened to the Pugwash hospital?
Even as they showed promise, the government cut them off. You’re not fruitful enough.

Rural people know what to do with a little soil and some fertilizer; they have faith in hard work and know how to adapt to new ideas. Government bureaucrats armed with financial spreadsheets and consultants’ reports think the soil and fertilizer and new ideas cost too much.
It’s says a lot about a government when it drops the Department Economic and Rural Development in favour of the Department of Business. Only, it makes no business sense to cut down a flourishing rural area by refusing to invest in its well-used hospital.
And they call country people backwards?

Update on the March 1st public meeting in Pugwash, from a reliable source:
There is no new hospital coming any time soon. Instead, there's another 1.5 million dollars to make a plan for a new hospital and present it to the government by April 2017. What happened to the last  plan that was presented to the government? Oh, right, the government failed to come up with all the funding. So...another beautiful example of classic government stalling. Honestly, how many governments are going to pass along this project? If they'd taken care of this 20 years ago, when it first became an issue...

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