I hope the Easter Bunny was good to everyone especially the children and grandchildren and yes I know that we aren’t supposed to give them too much chocolate these days, but what the heck, what are grandparents for? This is also a time when the Christian community has much to celebrate and it is a time for families to worship together and often times, share a meal together and think about our good fortunes.
For once this winter, or I guess it is spring although you really can’t tell by looking outside, Saskatchewan has had decent driving conditions on a weekend. Tragically almost every weekend we have witnessed serious automobile accidents and often fatalities. It has truly been a tragic winter for many. Let us hope we have seen the last of ice and snow on our roads.
You have often heard me say in this commentary that I believe the current government lacks long-term vision as did the previous NDP ones. There are two recent examples that I think prove this point.
The first is in the field of education where the direction and funding means that Saskatchewan in the long-term is going to fall short of providing the educational needs of our citizens. Saskatchewan does have many new immigrants - a lot of whom are coming here with English as a second language and many of them also have school-aged children. If we do not bring these folks plus our First Nations community into the main stream of society, the costs down the road are going to be more than we can handle on a social-economic scale. Education has proven to be the only long-term remedy for a well-structured society. I will have more to say on this topic in another commentary because this subject deserves the whole piece.
The second is a project very close to home and certainly a newsmaker in south central Saskatchewan. This item is the new regional hospital proposed for Moose Jaw. I went to an information meeting that was put on by the Five Hills Health Region last week. The RM which I represent No. 131 had written to the health region over a month ago asking questions as they have asked our municipality along with about 65 other towns, villages and RMs to voluntarily help fund this new hospital. Because so many of us in our area end up in the over-crowed Regina hospitals in order to obtain our necessary services, we asked two specific questions.
Number one, what were the criteria used in order to determine the size and scope of services which would be provided in the new hospital and secondly, would there be MRI services provided at this new facility because of the long backlog of patients waiting to obtain the services of this particular technology in our community. The presentation was very well done as the individual who is presenting on behalf of the region has done an excellent job of expanding on the merits of the new facility and the merits of “lean” technology to run this place.
The problem that I and many others have for this new $100 million facility is that it will only work if it has the very best diagnostics at the front end and reasonable places for patients to go at the other end when they leave the facility. This hospital with fewer beds can out-perform the old one if all the pieces are in the right place and properly funded.
So to even think about spending this much money and not include an MRI or retain services like the hyperbaric chamber in close proximity means that we are defeating the purposes that all the experts are telling us the new hospital will accomplish. This is like a farmer going out and buying the newest technology in a combine possible but having forgot to purchase a pickup in order to feed the crop into the machine. You would have the most state-of-the-art threshing capability with the best sample possible going into the bin but no way to get the crop into the combine. This is why to build this $100 million facility without an MRI joining the other suite of diagnostic services makes this whole exercise one of living for today and keeping election promises instead of planning for tomorrow with proper health care.
The current medical situation in Regina is not going to get better. The day the NDP closed the Plains Hospital and raised havoc with rural hospitals meant that stronger regional facilities had to step in and pick up the slack. The presenter at the meeting last week said that the eyes of the medical community in this province would be on the Moose Jaw facility. Indeed he said that medical professionals across western Canada would be watching this facility. If that is the case, then why would the provincial government not ensure that this facility not only had an MRI but the ongoing ability to fund its operation and upkeep so that more people in southern Saskatchewan would get their diagnosis earlier in the game and not be forced into the long waits and aggravation of the Regina situation. Where is the vision?
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These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.