Our health system is struggling: what I see as a doctor at the frontlines of a health traffic jam


This column is an opinion by Dr. Craig Christensen, a pediatric resident finishing his coaching at the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon. For extra details about CBC’s Opinion part, please see the FAQ.

On my approach to a 24-hour shift at the hospital, I watched a traffic jam type at the entrance to the parking space. 

A driver in the entrance mistakenly tried to enter the workers parking zone. The gate would not rise. Unfortunately, one other automobile pulled in behind, then one other, and shortly there have been 10,000 kilos of metal between the driver and an exit. 

We all waited, in numerous levels of endurance, for the conga line of reversing automobiles to shimmy backward. 

It appeared so apparent: there are two lanes, one for guests and one for workers. All you might want to do is comply with the indicators. But what’s apparent to me might not be apparent to others. The situation is not with the particular person drivers — it is a drawback with the traffic system and stream itself.” 

I know the place I’m going as a result of I’ve been right here earlier than. I have each the coaching and information to look forward. 

But these indicators are straightforward to overlook in the event you’ve by no means been right here earlier than. Look up at the unsuitable time and you will quickly be trapped at a metallic barrier with issues piling up behind you.

As I enter Saskatoon’s kids hospital for my shift, I’ll see a reflection of that very same traffic jam.

It’s straightforward for drivers to get misplaced and confused in the event that they fail to see indicators marking the place they should go, resulting in traffic jams. In health care, a related failure to see the indicators forward is creating bottleneck pressures. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

I’ll be greeted by colleagues who’ve been working by the weekend, preserving the ward purposeful. Hopefully they’ve had a few hours sleep, although I doubt it. 

Our attending workers has probably been up all evening as nicely, although they will are available and work one other six to eight hours. Weariness and irritability are setting in after a number of days of the similar relentless wave.

Most of our new sufferers have comparatively uncomplicated points, such as respiratory viruses. They will likely be right here for a few days earlier than heading dwelling. 

Alongside them, there’s one other group of kids with less-straightforward points. These sufferers had been dealt a unhealthy hand, however typically have emotional tremendous heroes for members of the family. Their mother and father handle a mind-boggling sequence of medical complexities, and they’re going to maintain on for as lengthy as potential. 

Finally, there is a group of sufferers with medical issues of Scrabble-level complexity. There could also be a historical past of abuse or neglect, congenital syphilis or these kids might not be immunized with possible meningitis. 

To me, these phrases aren’t solely medical diagnoses. They are underlying social failures manifesting as medical misery. And it is taking place increasingly.

Deeper fixes wanted for disaster

We know the penalties of ignoring preventative medication. The drawback is we’re organising smaller and smaller traffic indicators for our inhabitants to see, and they’re being submerged in a sea of misinformation and confusion.

Sometimes we do not even trouble to place up a sign, after which act shocked when the driver finally ends up misplaced and confused.

Our health-care system has been strained for a while now by the ongoing pandemic. This is neither information nor shocking. The repair is extra sophisticated than hiring misplaced health-care employees or including extra beds.

I imagine the resolution is to lastly tackle the social determinants of health which have locked some folks into cycles of dependency. 

Consider the influence of correct prenatal look after an expectant mom who has syphilis. Proper care means treating the mom earlier than she’s pregnant. There’s a window when a shot of penicillin issues the most, and it is lengthy earlier than her youngster is born. After that, we will solely deal with signs.

It’s arduous to behave stunned after we reduce a security internet and other people begin falling by.

Medical points are stemming from poverty, violence, drug abuse or disenfranchisement. These points will propagate from mum or dad to youngster, like a many-headed hydra, except a method out is offered.

We will spend $4.6 billion this 12 months on health care on this province. We typically spend it on placing out preventable fires that begin from the smoldering ashes of poverty, habit and marginalization.

Why aren’t we listening to our personal analysis? Because the solutions are politically unsavoury. 

They require spending on psychological health providers to forestall the dirge of overdoses and consuming problems which can be filling the pediatric hospital beds. They require funding in issues like hurt discount websites, which nonetheless have detrimental connotations regardless of quite a few advantages, and inexpensive housing to assist break a cycle of poverty. The listing goes on. 

The line in the hospital parking zone is solely getting longer, and we’re blaming the individual caught at the gate. We needs to be asking why so many individuals are getting misplaced. Two years in, and the nurses and physicians in the traffic jam are beginning to go dwelling. I’m starting to know why.

Interested in writing for us? We settle for pitches for Opinion and First Person items from Saskatchewan residents who need to share their ideas on the information of the day, points affecting their neighborhood or who’ve a compelling private story to share. No must be a skilled author!

Read extra about what we’re searching for right here, then e-mail sask-opinion-grp@cbc.ca along with your concept.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here