“Kiss me, I’m a doctor … “

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Despite complaints about local services, many of us have no strong reason to criticize our health care in the Pontiac. We have one of the best, if not THE best rural hospital in the province; we have the GMFs, which group doctors into clinics to ease their bureaucratic chores.

This seems to be slowly changing as the Gatineau CISSSO headquarters pulls more services, specialists — and decision-making — out of the rural areas and into their own massive urban bureaucracy. The CAQ government is now suggesting it wants to de-centralize (somewhat) health care; this seems a twenty-year cycle. It aids politicians to pretend they are problem-solving, when in fact little changes.

However, to stay positive, we still have excellent general and family health care in the Pontiac. Specialists, few; many services and diagnostic tools, no .. but we seem to have family doctors, nurses and the others we need. It is not as easy to find a new doctor as it should be, but compared to so many regions, we are well-served. So many Canadians rely on hospital emergency wards or walk-in clinics (pay your own way); we should be relieved not to live in downtown Toronto, Calgary or Vancouver where longitudinal family doctors, serving all members of the family, are few. There’s a real shortage in “alternative” medical services, too — services not recognized by the Health Ministry, but used by so many Canadians.

The point is that Pontiac’s situation may not last; there is so much competition for doctors and nurses all over North America, it’s easy to see our providers lured away. Unless we up our game. How? Here are
some ideas (only six):

First recognize that medical care-givers are here voluntarily; they choose to be here, to live with us and spend their careers caring for people in the Pontiac.

Second, praise them; create a positive atmosphere for them to work and also to live. Make them feel valued here, feel appreciated and honoured by their neighbours.

Third, encourage our youth to look into health science careers — that means encouraging success in school at every level, and, finally, to check out medical careers.

Fourth, formal recognition of the crucial role they play in the Pontiac– perhaps annual awards for their services and their pushing the extremes of good health care.

Fifth, offer help in daily life. A doctor adds a garage to her house — volunteer your help and skill. A nurse loves the outdoors – show her the best swimming, fishing, hiking and camping, picnics, sailing, all Pontiac’s super outdoors. Take a neighbouring nurse a fresh pie or cookies; invite them to gatherings, not just the big events but local cookie exchanges or Christmas parties.

Sixth, patronize clinics and alternate practises. Try a massage, acupuncture, chiropractors, etc. We can turn the tide around!