Working in a closet



Open letter to Mr. Michael McMillan, Chief Operating Officer, Northern Health,

I would like to stress these are strictly my opinions. I am a firm believer in the adage “if it needs to be said say it” and indeed I am going to say it, so to the members of the board of directors of Northern Health if in any way my comments appear to be offensive please accept my apologies.

During the month of July I have been at the local hospital most of the month between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to assist one patient in particular and a few others with their evening meal. Just a few days ago, I was appalled to observe what a decision by Northern Health has done to our very dedicated nursing staff.

I fail to comprehend why the nurses have been moved out of their workroom beside the nurses station to a room across the hall that is not any larger than a storage cubicle. I would hazard a guess that it is no larger than 70 square feet crammed with a fridge, computer desk, small round table and four chairs which does not allow all the nurses to even sit down. They are expected to function, tending to patients, meds, and well being?

How can Northern Health justify this decision? It is almost impossible to carry out their duties in such a confined space. There is simply no room for them to do their written reports, consultation amongst themselves or even the space for them to relax when they are carrying out their duties.

Mr. McMillan, I realize that the hospital replacement program is a major undertaking on the part of Northern Health but how do you expect to retain the nurses here, let alone attract young student nurses to come here when situations such as above exist?

It would appear all for not – it really defeats the purpose of a new hospital unless there are some serious changes in decision making on the part of Northern Health.

My second comment is in regards to the quality of food being served to patients at the hospital. The kitchen staff need to be commended – they do the best they can with what they have to work it.

How could one expect any different when the food is prepared in Vancouver and arrives in the hospital kitchen in a frozen state. Apparently Northern Health does this as a cost saving measure.

To my way of thinking good nutritional food to very ill patients should have a top priority. Whatever happened to the good old days when years ago local ladies would prepare fresh, nutritional meals from scratch in our local hospital kitchen?

One patient said to me the other day “this food is crap, it is barely edible.”

I have made the observation that most times the food arrives back on the trolley in the hallway and very little has been eaten by the patients.

I must ask you Mr. McMillan, would you appreciate this kind of service if you were a sick and dying patient in not only our hospital but other hospitals in the region being served by Northern Health? I think rather not.

My hat is tipped to all the very dedicated doctors and nurses who are doing their very best to provide the best possible care to their patients at the Lakes District Hospital. Mr. McMillan, as you are aware Northern Health can do better. I, as well as others in our small community are anticipating that you will take these matters seriously and will implement the necessary change in the near future.



Craig Armstrong, Burns Lake