I’m watching the events of the Canadian Medical Association’s Health Summit in Winnipeg unfold on Twitter. I’m pleased they offered patient scholarships and that there are 27 Patient/Caregiver Advocates there in amongst the 700 health professionals, including a handful of my friends and colleagues, like Julie Drury, Donald Lepp and Courage Sings. I admire them for their perseverance and commitment, as they have travelled great distances to show up because of their dedication to partnering with health professionals. I’m sitting here in my bathrobe at my kitchen table, not even having bothered to apply for a scholarship. I’m weary. I tip my hat to these patient/caregiver leaders.
At the very same time, there is a Doctors Stopping the Pipeline Bold Action and Witness Rally this morning, led by the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE). Physicians have gathered at the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby, risking arrest if they get too close to the gates and violate the court injunction because they believe that climate change is a threat to public health. (I believe that to be true, too, and my husband is down at the rally representing our family). The sky is thick with smoke from the wildfires today. The sun is but a red dot in the sky. I refuse to accept this as the new normal. Wildfires have been made much worse by climate change. It is time we connect the dots.
There are 700 physicians in a ballroom at the Convention Centre in Winnipeg and a handful of physicians standing before the Kinder Morgan gates in the suffocating smoke. Thousands more physicians are working hard today in Canada in emergency rooms, surgery theatres and clinic offices. They are doing the work that needs to be done, but something’s gotta to change.
(Patients are)…the greatest unused asset in health care system today – Dr. Brian Brodie, Chair Canadian Medical Association
This quote comes from Dr. Brian Brodie from the Health Summit this morning. While I wince at being called an asset, I agree with this philosophy and appreciate the notion of patient engagement has been identified as important concept for physicians.
I’m both a patient and a caregiver. I’m always looking for opportunities to share my feedback, stories and wisdom with health professionals. But post-cancer, I’m tired of having to be the one to hustle. I put up my essays on my blog and whoever reads it, reads it. I’m exhausted from begging for a seat at the grown up table.
What needs to change? More bold action and more witnessing, like at the rally this morning. If you want to partner with patients and families at point of care or in your organization, just start doing it already. This would be a bold action. Grab a page from the CAPE playbook and stand up for what you believe in. Come to work every day to bear witness and hold space for the suffering of patients and families. Don’t turn away. I’ve had enough with the hollow words on strategies and mission statements followed up with no sustainable change.
I hope that every one of those 700+ delegates leave the CMA Health Summit with a firm commitment to follow through on their bold actions. I guarantee that change will not happen waiting around for the system to change. Change will happen one single person at a time, and the only way we can do this is together.