At the beginning of this week, I had both the misfortune and the pleasure of visiting the emergency room at the Nicola Valley Hospital. I say misfortune, because of the wait time and the reason for the visit, but I say pleasure as the ER was open and I am fine. 

Sitting in an uncomfortable chair for three hours awaiting medical attention by the single doctor and few nurses seeing patients is not how I wanted to spend my morning, it’s not where I wanted to be. Looking at the floor, listening to the symphony of infusion pumps whirring and keycards beeping, I slowly accepted something that made me feel less anger about my situation: the hospital staff doesn’t want me in this chair for this long, either.

Something is WRONG in rural healthcare, that is undeniable, and seems to be more or less agreed upon by both sides of the political spectrum. This isn’t a political issue – it’s a human issue – so, let’s start treating it that way. We need less political attacks and more public outreach. We need less finger pointing and more meaningful action. It’s time to assess and address, in both urban and rural settings. When doctors and healthcare professionals of all experience levels are sounding the alarm bells about being unable to provide care due to an overwhelming number of patients and underwhelming amount of resources, the government should respond and listen with support, and not platitudes. 

The same goes for the patient side of things – when patients are having issues accessing care due to long wait times, or a lack of care available at all, something needs to change. Healthcare professionals are overwhelmed, overworked, and often seem to be restricted in what they can publicly say regarding their working conditions. I am thankful for the nurses and doctors at the Nicola Valley Hospital, who work long hours in understaffed conditions to provide care to the thousands here that rely on them. 

The healthcare system is not working for anybody – doctors, workers, or patients. When there are gaps in our systems, people fall through them.