Updated: Dec 15, 2022
If 156 out of 2,358 hospital beds occupied by Flu or COVID-19 patients is decimating our healthcare system, we have much bigger problems in New Brunswick, wouldn't you agree?
Unless you have been living under a rock you are aware that New Brunswick's healthcare system in failing, so no new information there. I'd like to say that officials are panicking, but that doesn't really seem to be the case. Yes, there are a few doctors speaking out, but the people who are actually in a position to effect change are radio silent. Apparently non-COVID deaths aren't a big deal, not even when those deaths occur in an emergency room waiting area while waiting to be seen.
As you can see from the chart above that was created from data released this week by the the New Brunswick Department of Health, RSV, Flu nor COVID-19 are the culprits. So what is?
A 95% occupancy rate is lower than pre-pandemic rates. Really.
Touting data that New Brunswick hospitals are at a 95% occupancy rate is a great tool to keep the fear going, but is it true?
The following are the average annual New Brunswick hospital occupancy rates pre-pandemic. Don't take my word for it, you can find the information on GNB's website here under the heading Acute Care Facility Profiles.
Pandemic occupancy rates are:
If occupancy rates haven't changed, and currently only 6.5% of the patients have COVID-19, RSV or the Flu combined, why is the system failing?
But thanks to the fear mongering, once again a certain segment of New Brunswickers are begging to be locked down and mandated. Begging to be told they can't go to public spaces and that they must wear a mask. Why? When 93% of the hospital beds are being occupied by patients with other ailments, a mask isn't going to help no matter how virtuous it makes you feel to try and force it on to others. Now, if it's a personal preference to wear one in an attempt to protect yourself, by all means please do.
The Minister of Health is blaming it on the Liberals.
In last week's question period and in response to questions regarding the state of healthcare in the province, current Health Minister Bruce Fitch responded that the former Liberal government did little to help the situation now facing New Brunswick's overburdened healthcare system. He then went on to wonder why former Chief Medical Officer Dr. Eilish Cleary was fired in 2015 with no explanation and suggested maybe the Liberals could now answer that question.
While yes, the state of the healthcare system has been in decline for decades, through both Conservative and Liberal governments, the current Conservative government has been in power and calling the shots since 2018. Not only have they done the minimal to improve the system, likely the majority of New Brunswickers would tell you it is decidedly worse. Worse in fact than we have ever seen. If a sitting government isn't responsible for health of the province's healthcare system, who is?
Bringing up something that happened almost 8 years ago in response to current issues is probably a huge red flag and indicator that this government has no idea how to fix this and that is something we should all be very frightened by. I mean, we knew Dorothy had no clue what she was doing, we had higher hopes for Mr. Fitch though.
But hey, if knowing why Dr. Cleary was fired all those years ago is the silver bullet that will fix this failing system, then by all means, please get to the bottom of it, quickly.
Can the opposition parties do better?
Hmmm, well, if the best they can come up with is criticize the sitting government for not holding a press conference to explain to New Brunswickers how to keep safe from the circulating viruses, oh, and we should all be wearing masks, it's doubtful. Seriously, if after almost three years into this mess people haven't figured out how to lessen their chances of getting sick, or know what to do if they become sick then what will a press conference do?
Again, a better question would be to ask why, when occupancy rates are no worse than pre-pandemic levels, why is the system failing so miserably? The answers to that, backed up with action might actually improve things.
But no, let's focus on masks, or the lack of them, because well, that's the easy thing to do. It's easy to see if someone is wearing a mask or not, it's not so easy to root out a systemic problem of mismanagement and poor planning that helped bring the system to its knees. Add to that the fact that it has become socially acceptable and makes for great click-bait to blame a maskless person, hell, they're probably anti-vaxxers too, right?
Everyone is to blame except the people in charge.
Just as the failure of the COVID-19 vaccine was blamed on the people who didn't take it, the broken healthcare system is being blamed on the people who do not make the decisions. That nurse in the ER who is scrambling to take care of a dozen patients at once, or the paramedics sitting for hours in their ambulances in the hospital parking lot waiting to get off-loaded, they are not in charge of allocating budgets, resources, scheduling or recruitment, yet, they are the ones being thrown under the bus.
Maybe in hindsight, the decision to fire and force early retirement on hundreds of healthcare workers over a vaccine that wasn't even tested to see if it prevented transmission wasn't the greatest one. Same as the education system.
Ego got in the way and now New Brunswickers are paying the price.
Flu testing has increased 1,626%.
"Cases" aren't the metric we need to pay attention to. With testing for Flu going from an average of 180 tests during week 48 in the seasons 2013 through 2022, jumping to 2,925 tests during week 48 of the current season, if you are looking for it, you are going to find it.
RSV tests have gone from an average of 141 during week 48 in the seasons 2013-2022, jumping to 2,642 in the current season, an increase of 1,878%.
Feel free to fact check that here.
Does this mean that we are experiencing higher amounts of Flu this year? That's hard to say since these are laboratory confirmed cases and prior to 2020 most people got sick and stayed home to nurse themselves back to health and didn't need to shove a q-tip up their nose to confirm an illness. It wasn't until COVID that the general public was trained to be afraid of everything, test with no symptoms and look to the government to tell them what to do. I honestly don't know how we survived before that.
Hospitalizations and deaths are the metric to pay attention to. RSV doesn't appear to be killing off our children as predicted, and while 115 Flu hospitalizations is historically high, hospitalized due to the Flu and with the Flu are two very distinct things. We played these semantics with COVID, remember?
In the fall of 2021 policies were put in place requiring non-COVID vaccinated employees to be tested while vaccinated employees were not. Then they used that data to declare that unvaccinated New Brunswickers were the majority of the new cases of COVID.
Well of course they were, if you're only testing unvaccinated people then the cases will only appear in unvaccinated people, duh! But were these people actually sick? No, they weren't but it did help feed the narrative and the majority of the public bought what they were selling.
The good news? 70.3% of Flu tests were negative and 95.3% of RSV tests were negative in week 48. Bye-bye doom and gloom, we're doing great!
The broken healthcare system is a management issue not a patient issue.
Stop blaming the patients, please. Everyday people are shamed online for using emergency room care with the answer being to see their doctor. That's great advice if you actually have a doctor, another issue officials don't seem to be panicked about.
Even people dying in waiting rooms isn't enough for most New Brunswickers to get involved. If you haven't written your MLA yet, why not? The system is broken and maybe the best way forward is to level it and start over from the ground up. Better yet, let's find out why the 2,084 people with 'other' conditions are in hospital and try to sort those issues out because Flu, RSV and COVID are not the problem no matter how hard government and media try to convince you they are.
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