What Are We Doing…or not doing?

“Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” – John Adams

Junior Red Cross Hospital for Crippled Children (1957)

The above quote was attributed to former President John Adams in in 1765. I feel it is applicable today as it was then. This is one example. Anybody who knows me or have read me knows I grew up in the facility pictured above. I grew up in the infancy of the healthcare we enjoy today. Nurses and healthcare professionals, many of those professions in their infancy, were the future of the healthcare we know today. They were the parent figures to so many polio survivors. I was seven then when we migrated (Winnipeg didn’t have the services for us) and these nurses were the parents of many polio survivors. They raised us to be “survivors” and not “victims”. We seem to be returning to the days of victimization.

At the time nursing was a “calling”, not a profession. We didn’t have “universal healthcare” at the time. Community health was a patchwork of locally run hospitals or facilities that were run by communities, charities or faith based groups. That hospital became the Alberta Children’s Hospital in 1972.

My parents migrated from Winnipeg to Calgary because that hospital was offering “free” treatment to polio kids. I spend eight years there and went through over a dozen surgeries just so I could get rid my my leg braces and wear “real jeans” (a relatively new fashion in the 60’s). Nurses were not only mother figures to many of us but student nurses also made up about a third of the staff. In exchange for training they received a residence, a living stipend and experience. I later worked in healthcare (Holy Cross Hospital) and married a nurse in the 80’s. That’s a completely different story for another time however nursing has always been in my life.

Getting ready for the day.

Nurses are the hero’s of my life. And here we are today. Nursing was legislated into a profession in the 80’s. All of a sudden to be a nurse you had to have an expensive four year university degree. Did it produce better nurses, I can’t say but I still see the dedication and caring in most nurses today that was there 60 years ago. You know what else is still there, the fickleness of the public.

At the beginning of this pandemics nurses were hailed as “healthcare hero’s”, front line soldiers, the last line of defence against a burgeoning pandemic. People crowds out on their balconies every night at 7pm in Calgary to beat pots, rings bells and loudly scream their appreciation for these hero’s. What a difference two years has made.

Now we have nurses leaving the profession in droves. Hospital units, urgent clinics, and doctors offices are closing down due to staff shortages. Meanwhile the fickleness of the community buries their heads back in the sand while a power hungry bunch of ideologists pretending to be politicians have turned these healthcare hero’s into “political scapegoats”. How long do you have to be abused when you are already sleep deprived and demonized before the compassion that bought you to the profession is squeezed out of you like grapes making wine? Wake up Alberta, there’s an election on the horizon.

Nuff said for now.


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