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HelpPEI Press Conference
3/11/2014 12:13:00 PM
Jeff and I attended a press conference today for Help PEI. Here's an excerpt of what Jeff announced.
"I am a parent of a child that currently requires physio and occupational therapy services from Health PEI. To some this sounds like something that should be very simple to access as many of us do, unfortunately it isn't so simple for Island children. The early child physical medicine department budget doesn't allow Island children with complex needs the amount of physio and occupational therapy that they require. The department's budget hasn't seen a much needed increase since 1987.
Our family has been advocating to improve Health PEI's early child physical medicine services so that Island children with complex needs can have equal access to physical medicine services as adults with minor needs. People are generally shocked to hear that Island adults with a sprained wrist have better access to physiotherapy than a child that cannot yet walk, or sit on their own.
Health PEI's solution to this decades old issue is to hire a shared coordinator to lighten admin duties and a part time therapist. The part time therapist is a welcomed addition but is being placed in with temporary funding that will run out in one year's time. The therapist will only be serving children in Queens County on a temporary basis. We don't know what this currently means for the affected children in Prince and Kings counties. The early child physical medicine department has been requesting more funding to address their service gap for years but the requests have been declined year after year. It is quite evident that permanent staff are required to meet the needs of Island children.
We would like to announce today that we are launching an official public petition to request that the PEI government approves the most recent Early Child physical medicine department budget request. We aim to collect as many signatures of support as possible and motion the petition on the floor of the PEI legislature. The policy makers and MLAs of our province need to be made fully aware of this issue in order to resolve it."
A special thank you to NDP PEI and their leader Mike Redmond for his continued support and assistance in resolving this important issue.
Public petitions are available to sign at McKinnon Wellness (298 University Ave, Charlottetown, PE) and at all Island offices of PEI Council of People with Disabilities (located in Summerside, Montague, and Charlottetown ). We will also be looking for signatures in public, so if you see us please sign the petition to support for more physical medicine services for Island children. Please lend your support to make a difference for children in this province.
As of this moment 544 people have liked our Facebook page to show their support of the Island families with children whose physical therapy needs are lacking in this province. It has touched my heart that so many of you are ready to rally to this cause and let our government know that PEI should have the same level of healthcare as every other province in Canada, starting with those children who have been neglected for decades. Over 220 emails have been sent through HelpPEI.com. We have the support of teachers, businesses, healthcare providers, physiotherapists, mothers, fathers and friends.
I recall as a child at Queen Elizabeth Elementary School, that the 2 children in wheelchairs were in a separate office with a window that we passed on the way to the gym or to music class. No wonder we've allowed government to push aside their needs for 30 years. We've been pushing their needs aside for as long as my memories go back. Why weren't those children integrated into the classroom with everyone else? Why weren't they involved in music class or gym class with us? Listening to music, lying on a mat, feeling gravity, sensing movement, that would have been the best approach. Instead they were isolated and weren't given the opportunity to become the same as every other kid.
I have heard stories in the media lately about families with special needs children moving away to get the level of care they deserve. It breaks my heart. I feel happy for them and support them for making a stand and creating awareness about what's happening to them through the media, but saddened that they had to leave their home and their extended family behind to get the proper care for their children.
This is likely why I feel so strongly about making a change here. The reaction since my open letter has been positive. Olive Crane has brought this issue up at the Standing Committee on Health, Social Development and Seniors just yesterday, and they've all agreed this needs to be looked into further. I have spoken to James Alyward, MLA for Stratford and he has committed to supporting this. I have even been forwarded emails from MP, Sean Casey who is showing his support by urging the federal government for increased Canada Health Transfer payments to the province. Jeff has met with Mike Redmond, Leader of the NDP, today and he's also in support of the campaign. These are the first politicians auditioning for the hero role. Thank you for not just listening, but acting.
Everything you are doing to support this campaign is helping. Asking for more money is one way to find a solution. Another way is to better manage the money we already have. We could take a good look at our resources and see where there is excess spending. To cut that excess and move it over to areas that will make the greatest impact on our lives.
The problem I see with the Provincial Government presently is that they are pulled in every direction to support every cause without clear priorities in mind. They can get behind investing $140,000 to revitalize bingo in PEI because someone approached them and said look, if our profits go down, so does your income and donations for charity that comes from this bingo revenue. Yes I get it, but it shows how broken our system is when decisions like this can be made, without prioritizing all the other expenses and need in the province. To put money into a dying pass time seems wasteful. I'm the target demographic they want to attract, and I can tell you I've never gone to bingo after the age of 7 (and I was dragged there by my aunts at the time). I don't know any 40 year olds who gamble at bingo.
No one seems to be managing the entire system as a whole, as every department is disconnected from the rest. We have seen this even inside the QEH. Our paediatrician is only aware of the lack of services in the children's physical department as we've gone to her for more support. The nurse who sees our daughter in Paediatrics had no idea it was that bad. Proper management is lacking as there's no communication between departments as to needs that are going unmet. The workers on the front lines say their hands are tied, even when they know of the issues, what can they do. That is why they need our support.
The government can spend up to $600,000 for hills in Borden, without consequence as the transportation budget is separate from the healthcare budget. God knows what the maintenance cost on those hills are, likely upwards of 25k a year, based on this government position alone, just to cut the grass twice a week to make them look good. This excessive spending and waste in our province has to stop. If it doesn't it starts to look really bad. The public perception of our leaders goes downhill. I'm not saying anything radical here, this is not what everyone I've spoken to has not already said or agreed with.
Government, start speaking more to regular taxpayers and families in this country. They will tell you that because they pay "tax on tax on tax" on their gas and HST on more items than they were taxed before there isn't an extra $50 bucks in the family budget to blow on bingo. They will tell you that they believe in paying taxes when the money is well spent and they can afford for their families to thrive with good nutrition, a warm shelter over their heads, good roads to travel on, and good healthcare for themselves AND their children. This has nothing to do with political stripe but everything to do with basic human needs and rights. Let's move from lazy approaches of "that's just how it's done around here" and "you can't expect it to change overnight" to "I can make a real difference in peoples lives, that's why I got into politics in the first place."
Jeff and I have started all of this by investing $20 for a domain and reaching out to the community for support. That's it. You don't need to have a pile of money to force change. You just have to have the right principles which will motivate and drive you.
The reason I speak of all of these bad spending decisions is that this issue with the children's physical medicine department could be fixed in a day by hiring 2 more therapists to meet the demand. This might not be all that's needed but it would be a solution to directly increase the amount of therapy that's available.
This is my blog, this is all my opinion. I've been ranting for over a dozen years. I don't expect to change things all by myself, but I hope to get more dialogue started and light some fires within others to help others who really need the help. Starting this cause is how Jeff and I can go to sleep every night and live with ourselves, instead of putting up and doing nothing.
You want to help? Visit Help PEI to show your support for more Early Child Physical Medicine services at QEH and send a clear message to our leaders that they need to put their priorities in order and start looking at things from a broader perspective. You can read my Open Letter to the Government of PEI and Health PEI here.
Open Letter to the Government of PEI and Health PEI
2/11/2014 1:21:00 PM
Currently the Queen Elizabeth Hospital has very few resources in the Early Child Physical Medicine department. The special needs children that rely on these services require more physiotherapy and occupational therapy than the province of PEI has been providing, for decades now.
Jeff and I have decided, as a family, to create awareness of this issue not for our own gain but for the hundreds of children who live in PEI who have Cerebral Palsy or struggle with physical challenges or developmental delays.
I started to write during my lunch and this letter got long. It's everything an interview on television doesn't reveal. It's valuable information into a system that's broken, and a chance for real positive change if someone steps up and gives us a hand.
The response and solution from Health PEI is to hire a part time physiotherapist for 3 days a week, and a full time coordinator to determine the needs.
Now children in PEI can get 1.5 (better coordinated) Physio appointments a month instead of 1!
It's a shame their solution is to hire a coordinator to sit at a desk all day and determine the needs instead of hiring another full time physiotherapist who could take 1/2 the case load from the existing physiotherapist.
This is how the PEI government wastes tax payers dollars.
If they spent an hour with the existing physiotherapist they would get all the "coordination" information they need. She can only schedule 1 appointment a month for over 100 kids who need 4 times that amount of therapy.
What a waste of money! Health PEI is overstaffed with administrators and under staffed with actual healthcare providers.
What happens to this coordinator once they determine the needs, are they going to let her go to free up a salary to hire a physiotherapist? More likely, put it off a year or two until the next budget is in place. Meanwhile 0-5 year olds in the province who have Cerebral Palsy or are struggling with other physical challenges need help now, while they are young and at a crucial stage of development.
This is so wrong. I don't know how these people can call themselves leaders. I challenge them to do the right thing and bring a real solution to the table.
Some children between the ages of 0-5 in the province of PEI with complex needs get one appointment with a physiotherapist a month. An adult can fall and injure themselves and get better care, physiotherapy twice a week, than a child who hasn't learned to walk yet. This is wrong. The PEI government hasn't increased the budget to the physical medicine department for children since the 1980s.
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