With the wind expected to rise even above the stiff breeze at 7:30 this morning it
seemed like a good idea to scoot around and get some pictures of the fall colours
before they all moved on to Manitoba.
The odd thing, and I suppose it really isn't all that odd, is that while I was moving
around the nearly deserted streets of this quiet town, the car radio was chronicling
the consequences of the strike of health care professionals including ambulance drivers,
pharmacists and a host of others who began a job action yesterday afternoon.
Should there not be harmony and peace amidst such glorious beauty? The sun flashing
through the trees and diving down street after street turning on the colour of the
leaves, those still green and those who have burst into fall flames.
But this is reality the camera recorded the scene while my mind and awareness take
in the strange situation where we have an enormously difficult situation developing.
So often we miss the scenes that come before us because of what our emotions do to
our awareness. But we often also see things and point our cameras in different directions
when we are trying to understand those things so hard to grasp.
The health care management system is designed to fail, structurally it is completely
unworkable. One fellow this morning reported that this strike was completely avoidable(Regina
health district head in intereview on CBC radio) after the settlement of other health
care workers, wasn't it obvious their coworkers would expect similar and fair treatment?
Yet, Louise Simard and her organisation, which in itself has no real function
other than to mess things up, decided not to negotiate with these valuable people.
The consequences are totally unacceptable. People who have waited ridiculously
long periods of time for treatment are now delayed even more, and with them, those
who are waiting in line behind them. Their pain and suffering, and for some their
death, is now the responsibility of Louise Simard and the SAHO, who
the courts decided had negotiated in bad faith and it is clear to all, caused this
These leaves will be blown from the limbs of trees as the wind rises today, that
is a natural consequence, it just happens, but we have developed a medical system
that can ease pain, augment life and provide better lives for our friends, neighbours
Once upon a time, in 1962 the people of this province, through their government brought
forth a system whereby the cost of health care was to be shared by all. There were
those who did not like this idea of sharing and began an ideological struggle to
restore what they believe is the natural order of things, those with money get help,
those without money should rightly be blown from their limbs.
Once upon a time, hospitals were managed by powerful nurses called matrons.
They run the places, supervised the help, seen that there was supplies, worked to
see that there were doctors and paid the bills. But, some how this practical and
working system was undermined. Management was moved from health practitioners to
university trained accountants. The universities that trained them, in their business
schools, are ideologically opposed to the idea that we should all share in the cost
of medical care. They believe, yes believe, for it is a matter of
religious economic faith, that only those who can afford it, should be afforded
In time, this class of management came to control the system and they set about successfully
to destroy the system, which they work for and their method is remarkably efficient.
They diffused administration so that no one, really is in charge, for a decision
to be made, there must be a meeting, supervisors of supervisors must be consulted
and decisions deffered In time this structure of non-decision makers has grown to
the extent they are an army. Each are paid according to their university business
trained education and their job is to prevent the system from working.
Our hospitals were once run by the front line workers, supervised by a local hospital
board and the system paid for by billing the medical care insurance program
for the work done. Efficient and locally controlled. But once hospitals began hiring
managerial staff the system began to collapse and here is what is really amazing.
Instead of recognising the error, politicians who do not stay in office long enough
to learn from mistakes, merely increased the number of these nonfunctioning managers.
When the weigh of economics cut in, the government dispensed with the local hospital
boards and created district health boards with managerial staff. This was
even more unsuccessful and of course you know the response. When something is unsuccessful
the pattern of the past was repeated. The districts were dispensed with and even
more remote Regions, twelve of them have been established.
The failure rate of this structure is complete. Publicly funded medical care is doomed,
managed out of existence. You and I will not allow our friends and relatives to
go untreated when we know treatment methods can make their lives better and longer.
The diffuse ineffectual administration is backed up by an even more diffused and
even less effective front organisation called SAHO with is boss Louise
Simard. Failure is not the consequence, failure is the plan.
The wind blew a lot of leaves off today and as more of them turn gold, brown and
red, more will let go and drift to the ground to decompose and continue the cycle
of life. Nature is harsh, it is brutal and it acts on plants without remorse. But
we humans are a well developed social animal, capable of making conscious choices,
capable of resisting and handling many of nature's violence, and we have been steadily,
although still very primitively, improving our science. We can do better and will
go on to do much better, but at the core of human life is the fact that we work together.
Like bees and ants, buffalo and musk oxe, we are social animals.
Accountants and bookkeepers can do a fine job of looking after money, but when it
comes to looking after the sick and injured, the person making the decisions and
running the show should be a nurse and a doctor, not a janitor. Oh, janitors
do fine job of cleaning things, but right now they are the only people in charge
and have no say about how work should be done. It's just that, with the decision
making so totally confused, its the last person in the string of people, who must
decide what happens.
Some years ago education was disturbed to discover that the two most powerful people
in a school were the secretary and the janitor. Everyone of us who
has served a day as a principal knows this to be true and we learned never to cross
either of these people if we want our school to run well.
In a modern Saskatchewan hospital there is no equivalent of a principal, the people
who give care are people working twelve hour shifts, four days straight and forced
to just "do their job". In effect that means getting through each
ninety-six hour cycle, tired robots. The unmanaged doctors are overworked,
considered by everyone as high paid magicians who give their patients their complete
attention for 27.5 seconds and then write a prescription, "next."
As a kid I remember wondering why the things that grew on trees each spring and fell
off each fall were give a verb for a name. Is it because they do if fact, each and
every year, leave. If this is perhaps true, than is that why a person waiting for
"elective surgery" or sitting in a "waiting room"
in a doctor's office is referred to also with a name that is also a verb?
It would be perfectly appropriate to call those managers in the Regional health
offices and those whom they supervise as "obstructionist" or perhaps
an anagram of some kind would be better as the CCM (chaos and confusion makers).
Now that leads to an interesting concept, imagine a bicycle factory, or better yet,
several bicycle factories where the workers come in and do twelve hours shifts for
four days straight. The ordering of parts, training of new staff and paint colours
are controlled by a manager who has broken down the tasks so that some staff look
after spooks, another seats, and another pedals, while another manager is in charge
of nuts, chrome handle bars and reflectors. No one person is allowed to interfere
with the director of design and his assistants, who also look after employee relations
and marketing in small towns. Marketing in large towns is handled by the director
of waste management, who with his assistants, covers paint selection and safety testing.
Each part of the factory's functions and operation is dispersed through a range
of supervising directors and assistants, so that there is approximately one person
in administration for every person building bicycles during a single shift.
The province's health care system is being mismanaged as this bicycle shop would
be, but add to this one last little twist and you will see that I have barely scratched
the surface in uncovering the problem. What if that set of bicycle factories and
its whole financial structure was paid for by taxation and no connection was ever
made between sales, production and raw materials. Without the factory's output being
related to the demand, the administration when faced with complaints from tax payers
and politicians cut costs by reducing staff. The managers, increased pressure on
the workers to produce more and more bicycles, forced them to work overtime and reduced
their wages. When morale declined, they increased the number of supervisors and
when the workers went on strike they were forced back to work by government legislation.
When you think it through, you realise that design failure is far worse a problem
then insufficient funding. Take millions of dollars out of the support funds to
pay for meetings, travel expenses for supervisors and failure to reach timely decisions,
add to that wasted funds on payments to American weapons companies to create simple
administration software, overpriced by perhaps as much as 900%, then reduce staff
efficiency by overworking them, create staff shortages with lower pay then other
places so that many skilled people move on, creating increased staff shortages and
increased reduction in morale. Then to just really screw things up, when it is discovered
that the newly created thirty-two health districts are a total failure, dissolve
them and replace them with twelve even larger even less immediate management groups..
The provincial health administration organisation, (SAHO) with each member
of its staff being paid handsomely, and it matters not to them, that they are failures.
They blame the health care professionals for not accepting unacceptable wage offers
and break for lunch. Louise Simard and her staff have nothing whatever to
worry about, unless of course they get sick and that will mean a trip to Winnipeg
or Calgary for treatment, but the odds are, they will be fine.
Ultimately, you are going to get so upset with this catastrophe, you will accept
the capitalisation of medical care, you will do so gladly and the professors
at the business collages across this land will smile secretly and say "yes."
(The Fraiser Institute a right wing free enterprise outfit in B.C. got in
on the not so secret cheering today, as they pointed out that Saskatchewan waiting
lists are the longest in Canada.)
Do you feel the colder nights, notice that the days are getting shorter. You want
to keep on living in Saskatchewan you had better suck it up, be tough accept that
you are about to be sent from your perch and hurled to the ground, death is inevitable.
If you can afford a good HMO plan you should be okay, if you are a member
of the working poor, have low wages, or a large family, remember we all have to die
sometime, for you, that will just be a little earlier.
Have a nice fall day.