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Published by Greg Furminger

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Published by: Greg Furminger on Oct 04, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Letter by ONA rep Heather CrossThis past Monday, July 25th marked 35 years since the first shift I worked as aRegistered Nurse at Greater Niagara General Hospital. It has flown by, but whata generation to have been a nurse— to see how much has changed as earlier and moreaccurate diagnosis and improved treatments result in increased health as a community.I have also been witness to the effects of two decades of increasing provincial system pressures on our local hospitals. I have experienced what that means for our ability as Registered Nurses to provide the quality and consistency ofpatient care that we want to.In the midst of that, RN’s still bring huge value toa stretched health-care system. And we have respect for the whole GNG health care and support team. We do our best in the current environment to care for residents and tourists in Niagara Falls and surrounding community when they need hospital services. And after 35 years I wouldn’t trade a single moment.I have had theprivilege of touching many hundreds of our city folk and their loved ones in thecourse of my work. I see at least one of you every day around town somewhere. You don’t remember me, but I remember you.I have entered in to the most wonderful and the most devastating moments in people’s lives. I have witnessed such courage and grace in our Niagara residents as they face illness and devastating loss, orawait and receive care. I have also witnessed and been a victim of abuse and dangerous violence in the course of what I do. I would do it all again for the moments between myself and my patients that no one else knows about or can see or can talk about. I’ve made a positive difference for someone every time I’ve worked andthat knowledge keeps me satisfied when so much in the Health care environment works against me to frustrate and discourage me.I am like the other GNG nurses, we are Niagara Falls Hospital Nurses because we live here and are part of the community. It seems harsh to be accused of being lazy or uncaring in the newspaperI read and radio I listen to. I am at the sports field and helped your child oryour husband before the ambulance arrived. I am at the funeral home grieving with you and at the church worshipping with you. I attended to you there when you fainted or fell, or had chest pain or had a hard time breathing. I was a“school mom”volunteering with other “nurse-moms” to regularly check all of our children’s heads for lice! I am your friend and neighbour….you know I am happy when you call to giveyou that little bit of “expert” RN advice just to help you navigate or alleviate a health concern. I am a Niagara Hospital nurse outside the GNG hospital doors justas surely as I am inside the GNG walls.Local media and web logs have been filled with complaints and opinions of some of our community residents and leaders inthe last week. The community has responded with anger and fear based on their own understanding and experiences. RN’s can never enter into the public discussionthis other than to encourage people to come when they are not well, and not to delay treatment.We are knowledge workers and professionals. That is how we balance overwhelming patient needs and can re-prioritize minute to minute based on a multitude of competing criteria. We are never so proud as to think we get it right all the time and cannot listen to concerns and do bettert omorrow. We feel sorry when and if we hear that we have not been able to do our best.Are there problems in the Niagara Health Care System? Yes there are. Are there some good and capable people there at every level working hard against all odds to address thoseproblems. Yes there are. Are there people who no longer work there because theydidn’t meet the mark? Yes there are. Is there potential within the current ranksto turn it around?Yes there is. But time will tell. Community support and effective political advocacy will be a very necessary piece of this.In our work as Hospital nurses we find reward in the knowledge from our“inside” view, that the numberof people who leave GNG with concerns about the care they have received are veryfew in comparison to the numbers that come through our hospital day to day. People are mostly private about the good things in our lives that are private, about successful surgery, about a baby born way too early that is now a bright healthy toddler, about making it out alive after a cardiac arrest or stroke, about accurate quick diagnosis of a treatable condition. Going to GNG for help and treatment is part of our private normal lives, and most Niagara residents are gratefu

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