This week three years ago, we lost Greg. His death could’ve been avoided and we miss him greatly. His memory is strong in our hearts every day. We think of Greg in the good times, at weddings, buying a car, highlighting achievements and lazy afternoons. In difficult times, when it seems progress cannot be made, we channel Greg’s ability to see opportunities in every situation, his drive to continuously improvement and never settling for the status quo and his strong belief in doing the right thing.
Many people have read or heard Greg’s Journey (we are just shy of 30,000 views on healtharrows.ca) and we are grateful for those who are interested. Some people have then chosen to share stories of their experiences in the health system with us, most with sad, painful and frustrating outcomes. The last three years have been incredibly hard but through that time a network of people who are motivated towards positive change has developed. The movement for change in health care gradually grows stronger every day and while it may not be a tidal wave yet, it will not flash out and be gone, because of the tenacity and dedication of those supporting it, it will result in change.
We had the privilege of hearing the late Dr. Cy Frank speak at the end of January and something he said resounded with us and has, and will, define our path forward. His enthusiasm for change and innovation was clear, and in speaking about his over 20 years’ experience in health care he described one of the things that he learned. People generally respond to change in three different ways: there are people who are energized, embrace it and see the need for change (he referred to this group as the “stars”); there are those who fight it; and those who fall somewhere in the middle. If he went back to when he started this path in his career he would encourage the “stars”, spend more time supporting those who got it and less time trying to convince the naysayers.
One star we have met on our journey is Dr. Joshua Tepper. In a recent article on healthydebate.ca titled Health care must learn to embrace failure he wrote:
“Healthcare needs positive innovation. At nearly 12 per cent of our GDP, healthcare is a huge part of the Canadian economy, and one in which new ways of doing business are needed – yet it is an industry that has not accepted that part of improvement must be a willingness to fail.
Thus when we fail in healthcare we often double-fail: once in the event and again when we are unable to recognize, name and learn from that failure.”
When lives and quality of life is at stake, we cannot afford to have the same mistakes occur twice. According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Alberta spends 38% of the budget on health care (projected data for 2014). In trying economic times, we can’t afford to not learn from failure.
Health care in Alberta doesn’t embrace failure or approach it as an opportunity to learn and improve. The path that our family has taken over the last 3 years has more to do with our relentless questions and desire to help prevent other families from having the same experience than it does with a system that should have guided us through a disclosure process that would have allowed us to share and learn from each other.
The recent election highlighted a passion for change, accountability and transparency to those in power. We have a new Premier, and a soon to be named new Minister of Health. We hope that a fresh view will move the system toward safe, continuous, patient and family centered care. To have decisions at every level made with the patient at the centre, a true team effort at all levels, across the province, in every care centre, for every Albertan.
As always, we continue to be thankful for the many people inside the system who consciously care for the patients and families they come in contact with. Those who easily define a care system rather than a transactional, treatment one.
To our family, community our new friends and old. Thank you for sharing this journey with us and thank you for remembering Greg.