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« on: October 22, 2015, 01:38:05 PM »

by Wolf William Solkin


My beleaguered band of brothers (and sisters) at Ste. Anne's/Veterans Hospital (SAH) recently received yet another update bulletin from "Management" on the state of the upcoming (up-chucking ?) transfer of our haunted home, from Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC), to La Belle Province, aka Quebec.

Apart from the regular redundant reassurances, that notice also contained some pertinent passages which served to re-start a long-standing cause of mine, that of the real need to revise, revamp and restructure the current criteria and present procedures for accepting/receiving more bona fide Veterans requiring care in this special facility, rather than, as now, excluding them for a variety of antiquated and/or arbitrary reasons, coupled with some selective/subjective judgement calls, as now implemented by "The Establishment".

It is noteworthy to quote from the aforementioned SAH bulletin, which states that: "There has been a decrease in the number of beds required for long-term care for traditional Veterans over the last several years. As a result, three 33-bed units (i.e., floors) are currently closed, and an additional 20 or so beds are vacant. In all, approximately 120 of the (total of) 446 beds are unoccupied, and eligible Veterans are admitted without delay".

Baloney! Malarkey ! Hogwash ! I obviously take exception to the the veracity of the above statement (except for the statistical data), as I have personally been aware of damaging delays in admission. Nor do I accept or acknowledge that the VAC/SAH interpretation of "eligibility" and/or "admissibility" is always fair, consistent or even-handed, within the parameters of the official mandate(s) !

To continue my contention....the term "traditional"as used above by SAH and endorsed by VAC, defines and includes only Veterans of WW I (!!), WW II, and Korea. It excludes [WHY?] any and all Veterans who served in bloody Afghanistan and in the various United Nations deadly peace-keeping missions in some of the world's worst hell-holes, from which so many of those "younger" CAF volunteers returned to a more (in)different Canada, after suffering serious damage in so many ways. They, too, need but are precluded from the kind of care available only at Ste. Anne's, despite the plethora of empty beds available, but now being set aside for Barrette's burgeoning "civilian" corps....[WHY?].

I haven't conducted a professional survey, but I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that dozens and dozens of those "New Generation" Vets suffer,not necessarily from PTSD, but from more "traditional" injuries such as loss of limbs, loss of vision, loss of hearing, or chronic lung disease, or brain injury, or.... just name it ! Yet, notwithstanding VAC's oft-repeated and sacred, solemn avowal/promise/pledge to ensure "priority access" to Ste. Anne's for (all ?) Canadian Veterans, those Vets are still being treated as orphaned, second-class/third-world citizens [WHY?], by a VAC which is so stuck in the stone ages, that it hasn't bothered to update its eligibility guidelines long after the last Veteran of the First World War was honoured with the sad strains of "The Last Post" !

Also being side-armed and side-stepped from crossing the goal line at the entrance to Ste. Anne's Hospital, are the many additional WW II "traditional" Veterans who, through no fault or decision of their own, had been assigned to carry out their voluntary and honourable military service on home soil, Yet, despite their recognizable requirement for the SAH-type of care, they have been left "on the outside looking in; because of what should long since have been declared as obsolescent /passé protocols. They, too, are being denied, disregarded and discriminated against..., [WHY?].

In addition, no thought seems to have been applied [WHY?] to the fact that there are pools of Korean War Veterans and Merchant Mariners who, while currently in their early to mid-eighties and still deemed somewhat self-sufficient, will soon be in their far more frail and feeble nineties, and will then require the Ste. Anne's brand of care and concern. How long will they, and the other varieties of Veterans described above, be forced to grit their dentures and wait their turn in line for the much-vaunted "priority access", after Quebec's Health Dep't, rushes to fill the full present inventory of unoccupied beds? Even now, the flavour-of-the-month in the non-stop 'rumour mill' is that there exists an old and crumbling geriatric 100+ bed facility, which Barrette has already scheduled to shut down, just as soon as "He's got the whole (Ste. Anne's) world in his hands", to which he will immediately relocate the entire present body of "civilian" patients, en masse! How do you like them (rotten) apples ? Unconfirmed, but not unimaginable !

My soundly documented research reveals that , at present, gaining a berth at Ste. Anne's involves two separate and sequential steps. The first step is that of ELIGIBILITY, which is determined by a Case Manager at the nearest VAC Regional office, for which the primary/abridged criteria are to be a Canadian Veteran who " served in a theatre of war during either the First (!!!) or the Second World War...or in ...Korea...or (in receipt of) a wartime related disability pension...AND...have health needs which can be met by the establishment". (Basically the same conditions apply to Veterans of the Canadian Merchant Navy and Allied Forces).

The second step is that of ADMISSIBLITY, which is determined, (after Eligibility is confirmed by VAC) at Ste. Anne's, for which the primary criterion is that "To be admitted in SAH, the eligible Veteran must need treatment and nursing care on a 24 hour basis in one of our programs...done on a case by case basis by the Clinisal Nursing Consultant and the Director of Professional Services".

It is an 'open secret' that both formally declared sets of criteria referred to above, have been openly observed more in the breach, not only by obsessive rigidity, but also by excessive subjectivity, both at VAC and SAH. We have here some Vets who never set foot outside of Canada, as well as others who are virtually self- who's kidding who/whom ?" Let us NOW openly face the realities of today and tomorrow, by acknowledging the existing and future needs now extant among our abandoned (and 'banished ' ?). Veterans , and render them Eligible and Admissible to occupy the 120-and-counting unoccupied beds at Ste. Anne's (VETERANS) Hospital. Here is where they truly belong, until the last, but by no means least, of our band of brothers will have breathed his/her last breath, in a VAC bed, attended by VAC staff, in a VAC hospital.....Ste. Anne's .

If we can-and do indeed-continue to accept patients requiring palliative care, we can -and should indeed- admit those who are, fortunately, not at such an advanced/terminal stage, and can still be accommodated with the care, respect and dignity as befits them, wherever and whenever they served, even if they are not (yet) hopelessly handicapped. Prompt processing should present no problem, particularly in light of the many "new hires" of case managers recently and proudly announced by VAC.

It is well beyond high time for all VAC and SAH staff involved in this important issue, to bury their bureaucratic bonnets and replace them with humanitarian hats, so as to provide and safeguard this last remaining sanctuary for those many meritorious men and women portrayed above, who, having once selflessly served their country, now unquestionably deserve to be beneficially served by their country

To those who make policy at Veterans Affairs Canada, plus those who implement policy at Ste. Anne's Hospital, I can but add...venerate your vulnerable Vets, versus buttressing your bloody budgets ! .....


And, Lest We Forget........