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LETTERS – Happy New Year

I took the time on Christmas morning to visit with a dear family friend. Generational. He is 92 years young. A gentleman in every sense of the word.

He is a lasting connection to our family home and growing up as neighbours on Pleasant Street in Port aux Basques. I would not trade that childhood experience for life and money.

Where else on this great planet could a community gathering of nearly every child on the street be found, navigating harbour ice in the cove, while parents and neighbours kept a watchful eye from their kitchen windows? It was the time when a community of families raised children, a time when a community of families provided for the elderly and those needing special care.

Traditional Newfoundland and Labrador is an epic centre of cultural wealth stored in precious memories shared across generational lines.

My dear family friend has a physical body worn through age, now hospitalized. He is another patient on an acute care wing needing extra TLC, waiting for another bed. Such is long term care on the ‘wing’. He’s been hospitalized and in limbo for months now, shifted around. His room is double occupancy, with limited privacy.

Meanwhile there is a ripple impact with possible negative consequences. Others needing care showing up at emergencies and given limited options.

”Sorry, no beds you need to return home or take a bed outside the area in another facility.”

It’s a sad state. Our neighbour is a wonderful individual, has a wonderful family. He’s a proud paternal head of a large, loving family, and a veteran who provided service to a nation at war. He risked his life for our protection and preservation of freedoms, freedoms others often take for granted.

He is also a gentleman who has experienced excruciating loss, including last farewells to a spouse and four adult children. Yet, there is still resolve, and he still finds courage to smile. There’s always a smile to go with his beautiful, youthful eyes. Forever young, a gentleman receiving a level of care with genuine sincerity trapped in circumstances beyond localized control.

We are reminded during this Yuletide season of celebration of how fortunate we are, and yet, as patients in a health care system, many individuals cannot be guaranteed the basic decency of care in privacy. Shared care with others is not new.

Remember the old cottage hospitals? They had open wards. Strangers become acquainted through circumstance. It begs the question of regression.

Our friend and neighbour shares with a person whose home is 150 km down the highway. There are no beds available in acute care there either. Sharing is the only option for care. Circumstances surrounding care need to be better.

As a province and a country we appear to be constantly putting up a cosmetic front. Take down the facade. We are a nation that struggles to provide care for those in need.

Canada cultivates an image of a progressive nation spending millions, upon millions, and even billions within and on the global scene. Yet, in providing basic care, all that glitters is not gold.

I’m always an optimist. Let’s hope that 2023 has a brighter horizon for our struggling health care system.

John Spencer Channel-Port aux Basques

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