From the other side:
Thoughts from Norman H. Havill
Expressing gratitude to all the Health Care Professionals who work tirelessly beneath the radar screen
By Georges R. Dupras
June 17, 2021
As the years pass, we begin ever so slowly to realize that our time here is short. We find ourselves losing family and friends and becoming more dependent on the goodwill of strangers.
It was late May when I received a call from a man I couldn’t understand. He slurred his words and was at times incoherent, but he knew my name. He said, “it’s Norm,” and repeated it twice as I tried to place him. It took a few seconds, but I finally realized that I knew him as a friend I had worked with for a number of years. More than a co-worker Norman knew me well and, despite my less than endearing character, always remained a friend.
Georges,” he said, “I want you to do me a favour. I want you to write an article about our health care system and how we’re failing our caregivers. I want you to write about it from the other side.
Norm was hurting – he was in the hospital in pain, not knowing the full extent of the damage deep within his weathered frame. You see, Norm was a martial arts instructor and, in his own way, a teacher of life’s meaning. He had fallen in his home not once but twice and was in pain, a hurt that he had never experienced in all his years as a self-defence instructor.
“Georges,” he said, “I want you to do me a favour. I want you to write an article about our health care system and how we’re failing our caregivers. I want you to write about it from the other side.”
Norman began by telling me how first responders came to help him when he had fallen. He told me of their unselfish commitment to strangers and their families. He spoke of the ambulance drivers, their skills at dealing with the injured, and their unparalleled abilities to navigate through the cone-filled streets of Montreal. He questioned municipal officials – more focused on bike paths than on worsening road conditions.
He commended housekeeping personnel and orderlies who are overworked, underpaid and doing work no other person would. He praised the nurses whose patient ratios have increased steadily over the years, unlike their pay scales. Norman spoke with a deep appreciation for the Doctors, lab technicians and other support staff – all taken for granted.
From the other side
Norman recognized the difficulties older people experienced trying to access hospitals, especially for those challenged or on fixed incomes. Some subway stations are blocks away from the nearest hospital, and many stations are still wheelchair unfriendly. Parking is challenging and expensive at the best of times – and where do the profits go, he wondered?
‘It is time that we put health care workers where they rightfully belong and what better way than by re-structuring salary scales to better reflect their professionalism and by initiating a National Heath Care Workers day.’
Norman questioned the amount of tax dollars invested in our Health Care System in comparison to other services. A Health Care System so lacking in resources that front-line nurses are left to defend delays in medical procedures while our elected officials travel out of province and even out of the country for their medical needs. Resources stretched to the breaking point and where overtime has become the rule rather than the exception. Why, in a country such as Canada, is it so hard to find a general practitioner (GP)?
Only “from the inside,” as a patient, can we truly appreciate what these unsung heroes do for us on a daily basis. It is time that we put health care workers where they rightfully belong and what better way than by re-structuring salary scales to better reflect their professionalism and by initiating a National Heath Care Workers Day. If money remains an obstacle, could we not compensate by other means – perhaps through free public transport passes for health care workers or parking privileges at the hospitals?
Norman’s thoughts are shared by many, but for the most part, ignored by officials. He is asking that we seek change and express our gratitude to all the Health Care Professionals who work tirelessly beneath the radar screen.
Yesterday, Norman was moved from oncology to the palliative care unit of the hospital.
Feature image: Cedric Fauntleroy from Pexels
Read also: other articles by Georges R. Dupras
Georges R. Dupras has advocated for animals for over fifty years. A member of the International Association for Bear Research and Management (IBA), a Director of the Animal Alliance of Canada (AAC), Quebec Representative of Zoocheck Canada and past Board member of the Canadian SPCA, he worked on the original Save the Seal campaign in 1966 that culminated in the founding of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in 1969. Georges Dupras has published two books, Values in Conflict and the eBook Ethics, a Human Condition, and currently lives in Montreal, Canada.