We have doctors who are unhappy with remuneration and Personal Support Staff just unhappy. We have wait times for MRI’s and hip and knee replacements. People with mental illness are kept waiting up to a year for a psychiatrist. I believe I have a quick-fix for our health care needs in Ontario, if not all of Canada.


Stop the banking hours approach.  It leads to mismanagement of staff and a lack of timely care. We have a system that is stuck in the twentieth century refusing to acknowledge that people get sick outside the 40 hour work week.

I have had the unfortunate luck to have sampled care in many hospitals. Some in Ontario, others on the USA. I have been the recipient of below standard care in a Toronto hospital and I was the chaplain for a young woman who died from below standard care. She was walking around on a Thursday and was on life-support on Tuesday. Her care over the weekend was in the hands of casual nurses. These are people who come in on weekends and holidays.

The system is set up for failure. Nurses have to come up to speed on each patient. They’re human; they sometimes fail. When I received below standard care it was over the weekend in July. Never good to be in need of surgery in July. It is the time when new interns enter the system and the old residents leave.  No matter the number of pages that went out to my doctor-no response from him. And the nurses are playing catch up. I hope this is no longer a practice but I fear it is because the people who implement the schedules seem to be living in the world of a 40 hour work week.

Too many of our hospital administrators and employees act as if they are bankers with bankers’ hours-from the past. A 40 hour work week, weekends off, holidays and summers with restricted access.


Time for Canada’s hospitals to enter the 21st century with 24/7, seven days a week care

It is time for Canada’s hospitals to enter the 21st century with 24/7, seven days a week care.

My latest adventure took place at local Hospital.  They are so busy that you can wait and wait and wait for an operator to just answer the phone in order to redirect you.  But while waiting you can hear pre-recorded messages describing themselves as world class and asking for more money.

There are two patient advocates. Two. Their job is to assist patients and families with problems with their care. I tell patients and friends to contact the patient advocate if they feel their concerns are not being heard. The patient advocate is supposed to represent them-not the hospital. Yet, when I called on a Friday I couldn’t reach either one. Had to leave messages. Are things that bad at that hospital that they require two patient advocates? More interesting was discovering that not all the nurses know they have a patient advocate. But, despite the fact that there are two, neither of them works weekends or evenings. I was finally directed to a nurse shift manager.

As a matter of fact, one of the patient advocate I finally was able to reach, was upset with me for even suggesting that there be an advocate on the weekends. He notes that other hospitals don’t do that. Great reasoning. But patient advocacy is not the only department AWOL on the weekend. The Infectious Disease doctor was also unavailable. Read the signs outside many offices and they are closed on weekends as well.

Speaking of infectious disease control. A patient was on the ward for infectious diseases. These aren’t diseases like Ebola but are infectious enough that you don’t want them spreading through the hospital. Many patients have weakened immune systems. The protocol on the ward was unusual. Some nurses took all the precautions that are required.  Others did not. Some nurses made sure that family followed the protocol. Others didn’t. My favourite was a patient who was one day deemed infectious, not the next-deemed infectious the following day. Really? This is a hospital in Canada? Not third world?

Many departments are closed for the weekends and evenings- as if illness takes a break. Need a spinal tap? Good luck on the weekends. One specialist was available. If a spinal tap is so important why the eight hour wait? Need a personal support worker-the staff have no access to agency directories. It’s not as if this is an unusual request. I have been very ill in hospital and needed someone to stay with me at night.

Need pain management in the ER at this hospital? Good luck. The mother of a patient was running around begging for pain medication. The story she told reminded me of Terms of Endearment. Except this is 2015. Nurses in one section of the ER seem to be separate from nurses in the other parts of this multi-coloured ER-zone red, green yellow…? Finally the patient received some pain medication in the Emergency department. But there was no order to provide more. Chasing doctors began, again.

There are hospitals in Ontario who work at being the best. Headwaters in Orangeville calls patients after discharge to ask about one’s stay and wants to hear about positive hospital experiences that they might incorporate. I know this from personal experience. 

Our health care is failing. We need to make changes but we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. First we have to treat healthcare as a full time job- 24/7 three hundred and sixty-five days a year.