By William Hogg ,MD reporting from Kirkland Lake, Ontario
If you were a toolmaker, would you remain in a space without a factory to work in? Not likely. Trends to outsourcing aside, you’d head to a space with a place for you to do your work. The question is this: to stay or to go? No real dilemma. Go!
Doctors (and nurses) in many outlying areas of southern Ontario, where their workplaces, the hospitals, are being dismantled apace, are faced with that very dilemma. To stay or to go. But no – ethics prevail.
Almost a year ago, I visited the chairman of the Premier’s Panel on outlying hospitals. (His report, due over a year ago, was recently circulated. To say the least, it was platitudinous nonsense.) Coincidentally, and of much interest, that same chairman is also the well-paid CEO of the Kirkland Lake hospital. That small gold mining town of about 8,000 people has a beautiful big hospital. Look at its picture below. It has an emergency. That lovely hospital has many beds, too, and few doctors. It beckons.
At almost the same time that I was visiting several similar places up north, the far away Fort Erie hospital in the far southern tier of Niagara was already thoroughly dismantled. Almost totally inoperative. No emergency. No active beds. The local doctors had no place to do their tough work. And patients, young and old alike, were already dying en route – to elsewhere. I must repeat: the isolated snow-town of Fort Erie, really a real city of thirty thousand people, has no really functioning hospital. Is there any doctor’s dilemma here? To stay or to go? Yes, there is.
No proper doctor will abandon her hometown patients for greener fields afar. Ethics prevail.
But the Premier’s Panel perhaps may think otherwise. Young graduates will avoid the spaces that have no places. To work, as the Panel says, “up to their capability,” they will go to where a good hospital is. Any young doctor worth any salt will go to where s/he can deliver babies. And look after children. And be on emergency call. And treat heart attacks. And care for their elderly. And do all the things a really good doctor can.
Well, points north are beckoning. The old or frightened ‘health care providers’ will stay in the south. The ethical and well-established will stay too. But the new, young and adventurous nurses and doctors may just never arrive in the south at all. Straight from school – they’ll go north.
The Ministry of Health will soon, methinks, be advertising thus: We’ll provide you a workplace. If you are a well-rounded family MD who wants to ‘be all you can be,’ go north where the hospitals (still) are.
At Large.Dr. William Hogg is a retired medical doctor living in Fort Erie, Ontario and frequent contributor to Niagara At Large.
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