The praying typeThe stress is building in the medical community each and every day. While the country debates jobs we have the opposite problem. Too many openings that remain unfilled.
By: By Kevin Baisch, Life in the Patch, The Jamestown Sun
Posted Sept. 9, 2012
The stress is building in the medical community each and every day. While the country debates jobs we have the opposite problem. Too many openings that remain unfilled. It’s not for lack of applicants. Our population has swelled and applications pour in as well. The problem is what has been the problem for many, many months. Infrastructure. Specifically, housing. Affordable housing. The medical community is stretched so thin and they are beginning to show the strain. Even doctors who have ties and commitments to the area are beginning to question how long they can hang on. Some are leaving, including my daughter’s primary care physician. The doctors and nurses who remain are swamped with caseloads and no longer take new patients. It is a frightening scene here. Just today a man came into the hospital looking for a “walk-in” clinic. When he was told there is not one available on Saturdays he made an angry comment about how he was from Montana and people said they were “backward” there, but it is much worse here.
I bristle at that. This has nothing to do with whether or not we are “backward” here in Williston. It has everything to do with resources. Sometimes late at night I toss and turn and slip from the comfort of my bed to look out the window at the cars driving by on the street out front. Glass of water in hand, I think about how a handful of employees at the local hospital and clinics are trying valiantly to hold those places together. I know many of them. I trust them. I have come to love some of them, but I also know that they are human. They are tired. They look for help. They receive little. And so they forge on. I wonder if they would be ready for me should I or my family need them. I hear stories of long waits in the emergency room. Of doctors seeing too many patients in one day. Of personnel burning out, turning over, calling it quits.
While the providers in the area build new additions and in some instances completely new buildings, I can’t help but wonder who will staff them. It is frightening, it is disheartening. Just yesterday the call went out for five ambulances at the same time. We have four. The crews did the best they could and coped by pulling an older unit out of the garage. I am so grateful for those responders. I am grateful for all the medical personnel in the community. I also fear for them. The stress is overwhelming. Sometimes I am reminded of the old M.A.S.H. television series. The choppers approach. The medical team scrambles. Sometimes successfully, sometime not. It is a triage mentality.
Will this improve? I believe in my heart that it will. When? Only when the state takes the seriousness of this situation to heart and begins to think outside the box. It will take bold steps and leadership. It will take someone to step up and no longer wait for “private enterprise” to close the gap in housing and infrastructure. We can no longer let the fear of stepping on the toes of real estate agents, contractors, and tradesman stifle what we know needs to be done. Under normal circumstances I agree with the free market system. In the long run the market will correct. It will provide. It will compensate. In the short term, it can not. It will not. These are not normal circumstances. These are not normal times. When it comes to the education, health care and safety of the community it is necessary in extreme times to take extreme measures — to step up and take control of the situation. If that means providing temporary “man camps” for employees financed and built by the state or federal government, so be it. We need to provide housing for teachers, dentists, pharmacists, doctors, nurses, mental health, law enforcement, fire and first responder personnel. We need it now. These people are the glue that holds a healthy and productive community together. Without them, the community is less productive, less pleasant, less stable and less safe. If you’re the praying type, pray that our leaders see this, understand it, and act on it, even if it is unpopular. If you’re not the praying type, find someone who is.
Baisch is one of several
bloggers sharing about life
in the Oil Patch at patchlife.areavoices.com