Dec. 15, 2023 Globe and Mail article highlights hospital overflow crisis in Alberta

In working on a biography which focuses on Alberta, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to matters involving public history, historical memory, and the means by which we arrive at mental pictures of the events of long ago. Many conceptual frameworks are available to choose from, when we seek to understand history.

For a long time, I could not understand the concept of Western alienation, which is often talked about with reference to Alberta. Recently, however, from reading H.V. Nelles (2017,) I have come to understand that a persistent regionalism is simply part of the baked-in history of Canada.

(Nelles (2017) is actually, on one level, very hard to read – because the book is set at a typeface of 8.5 points, which is much smaller than most typefaces in books aimed at the general reader. The actual content of the book, however, is, indeed, eminently readable, authoritatively aligned with the available scholarship, and well-structured.)

Now, thanks to reading Nelles (2011, 2017), I better understand what this form of alienation entails.

(Nelles (2011) is easier to read – it’s set at a point size of 10.5.)

Western alienation is thus but a feature of the country – it’s been baked into the history of Canada from the time when the British North American colonies were beginning their journey, whereby the colonies gradually coalesced into the Dominion which emerged with Confederation in 1867. After the original colonies of Canada West, Canada East, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia had coalesced, in time other parts were added including, in time, the province of Alberta. Already by that time, Western alienation was already firmly in place.

With regard to historical memory – say, of Alberta – we can say that there is no one story that says it all. For example, the key urban centres of Alberta – Calgary and Edmonton – appear to be less inclined toward a strongly right wing view of the world than appears to be the case in the rest of Alberta. Thus, one cannot validly generalize and say that Alberta is an adamantly right-wing province, and leave it at that.

Medical care in Alberta

Regarding these topics, I was interested to come across, in the print version of the Dec. 15, 2023 Globe and Mail, an article entitled: “Alberta dealing with overflowing hospitals: Acute occupancy rate in health care facilities exceeds full capacity, data shows.”

An excerpt reads:

Alberta’s health care system is being crushed by demand for its services, according to physicians across the province, with children waiting for cancer treatment, hospital wards overflowing and prenatal appointments delayed.

The crisis has spread beyond Alberta’s biggest cities. Regional hospitals, such as the one in Lethbridge, are now converting patient lounges into care spaces. The strain, comparable to the most devastating days of the pandemic, coincides with Alberta’s lowest rate of vaccination against influenza in at least 13 years.

A second excerpt reads:

Dr. Parks said some people are abandoning hospital waiting areas after waits as long as 10, 15 or even 20 hours, or are skipping emergency departments altogether. He described patients who came in with chest pain, left without seeing doctors and later died. Others have come back with serious heart damage.

A third excerpt reads:

Premier Danielle Smith, who voiced skepticism about the COVID-19 vaccine and has championed “alternative science,” has deflected questions relating to immunization, and so has Ms. LaGrange. Both were non-committal when asked by reporters in September if they would get the COVID-19 booster, saying they were healthy and that it was a personal and private decision. There have been no recent public appearances by health officials, such as Chief Medical Officer of Health Mark Joffe, on the importance of getting vaccinated to protect against respiratory illnesses. Dr. Joffe’s last public appearance was in September, during an outbreak of pediatric E.coli.

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