Archive for February, 2009

Are waiting rooms missing an

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

Are waiting rooms missing an
ingredient?

By Ken Waddell
Hospitals are often very busy places. Emergency rooms are, at times, extremely busy places.
The bigger the hospital, the busier the emergency room. It should be no surprise that the emergency room(s) at Health Sciences Centre (HSC) in Winnipeg are extremely busy, almost all the time.
And because of the nature of emergency rooms it’s well known that some of the emergencies sometimes don’t have a very good outcome. Such was the case of man last year at HSC. He died after waiting 34 hours to be attended to.
Of course there was disappointment, outrage and sadness that this happened. The story came out, many excuses were put on the table and the public accepted most of those excuses. The problem is that the people in charge lied about the situation. High end officials simply didn’t view the security camera tapes and should have before issuing excuses. The man did in fact come to the triage desk, he was spoken to by a triage staffer. He was known to the staff because he apparently came often to HSC. His death was tragic and perhaps preventable but why the cover-up?
That question needs to answered. Why would people who are paid over $350,000 per year to head up the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority be so dumb as to go on record with false information? Surely someone who is paid that much money can find an assistant who can show him how to view a video tape. Surely somebody could have viewed the tape and edited out the parts where the man was sleeping or not talking to anyone and actually showed the tape to someone in authority.
Here’s the problem. In a publicly funded health care system it’s almost impossible to get fired. The higher you are in the system, the less chance you will get hoofed for screwing up. The higher up the systems you are, the better your chances of being able to cover your tracks. There’s little accountability. There’s no career or financial consequences. Everybody gets paid.
The man is still dead and maybe he would have died anyway, but nobody apparently looked after him and equally apparent is that nobody is going to lose one cent of wages or career advancement over his death.
The other sad part about all this is that because of a couple of peoples’ negligence, all the wonderful work that was done that day in HSC is blotted by this man’s death. All the wonderful work they do every day is blotted by this one event.
One solution might be to admit that, be it in health care or banking or private corporations, we don’t need people earning half a million dollars a year, we need caring front line people. And we need more of them. When someone needs an emergency room, they need a nurse, a lab tech or a doctor, not a CEO who is at home comfortably in their bed.
Our world of today has gone administratively mad, piling more money, more esteem and less accountability on the administrative elite.
Hospitals are better places with more people on the front lines. Schools are better places where the principal still teaches a course or two. Corporations are better companies when the CEO still rubs shoulders with the customers.
When organizations get so large and so out of touch that there are no consequences for screwing up we can be sure there will be ever more screw-ups.
In this case, where a death has happened by sheer negligence, at least one person has to lose their job.
It could be the premier, the minister of health, the WRHA CEO, an administrator, whoever. Perhaps it’s a staff person on the floor at HSC. Somebody is responsible somewhere and the longer this goes without being attended to, the worse it gets.
To have had a negligent death is bad enough, to cover it up and try to ignore it makes the matter worse as each day goes by.


kwaddell@kenwaddell.ca This is a Sunrize Group internet solution (204)226-2247