Houston’s Prospects In The Next Election Will Depend On Health Care Leadership

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  • Your piece this morning was excellent. It is rare indeed to read intelligent and experienced commentary on public administration.
    The latter has been largely ignored and disparaged for the last 40 years. I spent 30 of those with the feds while the bureaucracy was being downsized and becoming ineffectual and five with the UN, which was in the early days being sidelined.
    Keep at it!

    Maxwell Stanfield | September 12, 2021 | Reply

  • Your article is “right spot on”. Everything that I and my colleagues in the health care field have been saying is covered.
    I greatly fear that we have reached the tipping point where desperate people will take desperate measures without the benefit of critical thinking.
    The situation on the ground is much worse than we have been told and we will soon be made aware of that. Since we do not have a robust health outcome measurement tool kit in this province, the delays in diagnosis and treatment brought on by both COVID and the lack primary care will be enormous. Primary Care, as we know it, cannot survive.
    As I enter my 40th year as a physician and as a keen watcher of health policy development and operations over the years in this province, I can assure you that travelling “dog and pony shows” are rarely if ever effective. They do provide cover and thus space for the government to beat down critics but do not produce an actionable plan. In 1988 I presented a paper to the Nova Scotia Royal Commission on Health Care on the challenges of providing rural health care. That assessment is as valid today as it was in 1988. Unfortunately we have actually slipped back from 1988 to a situation where on the Labour Day weekend the only emergency rooms available to manage even primary health care problems were in Antigonish and Sydney leaving the whole population of Cape Breton somewhat stranded.
    In June I learned on Facebook that my primary care physician was leaving our area to take up a hospitalist position at a nearby hospital where he nets more income for half the hours. I did not as much as receive a letter in the mail from him indicating that he would be no longer available to provide care – an interesting professional development in physician-patient relationships. I do not have a family physician and I am not on the list of the 75,000 + who are registered without one. Of course I am not as vulnerable and so not as much concerned about navigating the system.
    Mr. Houston has a formidable challenge and I fear he has promised too much given those challenges. First he must level with the population and actually chart out the challenges. Second, he must be careful of the advice he is receiving from an entrenched bureaucracy who contributed to the current state of affairs and thirdly, he must look to other jurisdictions that have begun to wrestle the problems to the ground: New Zealand, The Netherlands, the National Health Service in Britain and Israel, to name but a few. He should also remember that front line workers have much to contribute. If they are not part of the solution, they certainly will be part of the problem.
    I cannot tell you how many times I and my colleagues tried to reach out to Janet Knox, Brendan Carr and the DHW et al about these issues and never once received even an acknowledgment of our correspondence.
    You once referred to me and my colleagues, who were vocal critics of the NSHA, as “snipers”. I guess that moniker was also how the NSHA echo chamber saw us.

    Robert Martel MD | September 12, 2021 | Reply

  • You nailed it in your column today re the NSHA Houston health care mistakes.
    I am just an ordinary citizen with no ties to anyone in the government or with the NSHA system.
    But do think I have some common sense and maybe that isn’t a good thing at times, lol.

    I wonder why and maybe he did but don’t think so, what the former members thought of the ongoing system and how to fix it. Maybe they were prevented from an opinion. For sure I don’t know.

    See where Karen Oldfield will head a four person team with 3 current and former health deputy members. Scary to think 4 people will do this and no doctors etc. in the mix. Two great doctors who have tons of experience are Dr Sam Campbell and Dr John Ross who used to be and maybe still are in the Halifax Infirmary Emergency One of them a few years back even wrote a report on the hospital system and its problems. Not sure what was adopted from that report.

    Sure Houston wants to make it better and sure hope realizes he can’t do that in four years for a variety of reasons an ordinary citizen like myself can realize. Keep on the backs of the government Bill. They need lots of help no matter what party is running our province.

    AKM | September 11, 2021 | Reply

  • Politicians have to understand that appointing effective leaders based upon partisan or patronage choices will never be successful when the goal is to make transformational change in the culture and organization of an established bureaucracy.

    Nicholas Carson | September 10, 2021 | Reply