Knox needs to explain herself

Janet Knox needs to explain herself.

In a province that has an acute shortage of doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, why does Knox constantly squander surgeons?

Situations like that of Dr. Jeannie MacGillivray, who when facing burn out found a solution that worked for her, another surgeon and patients, and was forced to to resign don’t make sense.

Rather than support a doctor who recognized her stress, who found a workable solution, the Nova Scotia Health Authority not only said no, but made her work environment untenable.

Read the latest here: https://www.thechronicleherald.ca/news/local/surgeon-says-proposed-compromise-led-to-nsha-ultimatum-forced-resignation-283921/

Dr. MacGillivary’s situation isn’t unique. What’s different is she spoke up. Her experience should be a warning to physicians thinking of practicing in the province. (See Is the NSHA anti-woman below.)

As someone with a family physician, I am concerned about losing him. A year ago my previous physician closed his practice due to work-related stress. I was able to scramble and get on with his former practice partner. What worries me is that I am one of 3,800 patients this physician sees. He has asked for help from the NSHA, he’s asked for a locum or a Nurse Practitioner to support his practice, and been refused. I am concerned because how long before he either burns out or out of frustration moves from Nova Scotia to practice elsewhere?

My previous doctor was one of 10 who closed their Kings County practices in a 12-month period. Since then we have had over 30 of physicians in Cape Breton and the mainland Eastern Zone give up their practices.

In September 2017 the hot topic in provincial health care was physician burn out. A year and a half later, nothing seems to have changed.

The impediment to physician health and happiness lands squarely at the Nova Scotia Health Authority. Janet Knox is the CEO. She is in charge. The buck stops at her desk. In January Dr. Bob Martel called for a change in leadership. He is not the first to say that, just the first to put it in print.

We have done everything to change and improve health care for Nova Scotians. The government boldly changed the management structure by merging nine health authorities into what was supposed to be one cohesive unit. The government has invested close to a billion dollars in expanding HRM facilities as part of a staged, re-imagining cluster of care in preparation for replacing the Victoria General complex.

While we have a new system and a new vision we placed it under the care of old thinkers and an absentee/passive board of directors.

Bricks and mortar help, but don’t replace the skill and dedication of front-line medical professionals. There is no evidence that Knox’s tenure at the head of the NSHA has been successful. So why does the government continue to support her? Is it because of the expense of terminating her employment contract? (I was told hat was why we didn’t eliminate as many health executives as originally planned with the merger.)

The situation with the NSHA reminds me of a situation which existed in Canada’s military. In the 1970s it was discovered that Canada had more officers than enlisted men. Is this to be the fate of Nova Scotia health care: more executives than doctors and nurses?

What is the Government’s justification for keeping this executive in power?

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8 Responses to Knox needs to explain herself

  1. buddyboy546 says:

    The public values and nurtures our doctors while the NSHA treats them with obvious contempt, sadly with the acquiescence of the Liberal government. Clearly the NSHA and the government are out of touch with the very people they are supposed to serve. Both bodies have established shameful reputations for operating in secrecy, obviously trying to hide their shortcomings. The emperor has no clothes!

    • I launched this site because of the poor care our family received and hostile silence I received from the NDP government when I appealed to their then Minister of Health. Prior to our first-hand disappointment, I was like so many others who thought it was merely a matter of cheap politicians who under-funded health care. The constant to the public and professional unhappiness seems to be the executive.

      The executive have shown themselves adapt at manipulating politicians. When the NDP restricted the increase in the health care budget, health executives ran to the media complaining that the NDP had cut their budgets. The NDP eventually had to relent in face of the clever media manipulation of the executives. The executives know the public wants a short, happy-sounding, fast solution, not details. Government after government have been manipulated by the executives who have outmanoeuvred the politicians. If we could remove politics and political gamesmanship from the equation and focused the blame on those in charge of day-to-day operations as well as long-term planning we might achieve actual change.

  2. Peter Loveridge says:

    just read she retiring in August, not a moment too soon

    • There’s retiring and there’s retiring.

      If she follows the traditional pattern of health executives she will resurface as a consultant, for which she will be paid “market rates” vs the lesser pay public officials accept. We can hope she doesn’t become a consultant for the NSHA.

      I suppose the board, her colleagues (whom she hired), suppliers (hoping to cement their positions for further contracts) and some politicians looking to gain public favour will discuss some recognition to mark and celebrate her career. In addition to parties, look to see if buildings or wings aren’t named for her.

      • buddyboy546 says:

        It is only fair that she be recognized for all but bringing our health care system to its knees. What an achievement! Sadly she remains with us until August.

        It has been my observation that when problems are profiled, the usual response is that the NSHA can do a better job of communicating. That is just another way of saying “We are not doing anything wrong. People just don’t understand us.” That is just, again, blaming the public.

        Who would want to be a doctor in Nova Scotia these days? Their relationship with the people they work for, the NSHA, is abysmal. Unionist blue collar workers seem to garner more respect, involvement and accommodation than do our doctor’s. The stress in their work and relentless hours, coupled with huge debt for most just to get started, is significant.

      • Yes, the communications ploy: ‘people don’t understand us’. Bullshit.

        The NSHA have an army of communications people. Mostly their response is that secrecy prevents them from answering the public’s questions.

        People only have to look at their experience with health care, the lack of doctors, the way physicians in this province have been bullied (yes, bullied, a well-known doctor told me of a meeting where colleagues were in tears), the mismanagement of ambulances, the ER closures to start. I think that as of this morning at least three hospitals have either closed or restricted the hours of operation of their ERs because of a lack of doctors. That is the situation with NSHA.

      • buddyboy546 says:

        My sense of the situation is that our problems with health care are approaching critical mass, that we are not far from the system as we know it essentially collapsing. The loss of a few more doctors will cause such added workload for remaining doctor’s that yet more will leave, and so on.

      • A very real scenario.

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