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Letter by ONA rep Heather Cross This past Monday, July 25th marked 35 years since the first

shift I worked as a Registered Nurse at Greater Niagara General Hospital. It has flown by, but what a generation to have been a nurse to see how much has changed as earlier and more accurate diagnosis and improved treatments result in increased health as a comm unity.I have also been witness to the effects of two decades of increasing provi ncial system pressures on our local hospitals. I have experienced what that mean s for our ability as Registered Nurses to provide the quality and consistency of patient care that we want to.In the midst of that, RNs still bring huge value to a stretched health-care system. And we have respect for the whole GNG health ca re and support team. We do our best in the current environment to care for resid ents and tourists in Niagara Falls and surrounding community when they need hosp ital services. And after 35 years I wouldnt trade a single moment.I have had the privilege of touching many hundreds of our city folk and their loved ones in the course of my work. I see at least one of you every day around town somewhere. Y ou dont remember me, but I remember you.I have entered in to the most wonderful a nd the most devastating moments in peoples lives. I have witnessed such courage a nd grace in our Niagara residents as they face illness and devastating loss, or await and receive care. I have also witnessed and been a victim of abuse and dan gerous violence in the course of what I do. I would do it all again for the mome nts between myself and my patients that no one else knows about or can see or ca n talk about. Ive made a positive difference for someone every time Ive worked and that knowledge keeps me satisfied when so much in the Health care environment w orks against me to frustrate and discourage me.I am like the other GNG nurses, w e are Niagara Falls Hospital Nurses because we live here and are part of the com munity. It seems harsh to be accused of being lazy or uncaring in the newspaper I read and radio I listen to. I am at the sports field and helped your child or your husband before the ambulance arrived. I am at the funeral home grieving wit h you and at the church worshipping with you. I attended to you there when you f ainted or fell, or had chest pain or had a hard time breathing. I was aschool mom volunteering with other nurse-moms to regularly check all of our childrens heads fo r lice! I am your friend and neighbour.you know I am happy when you call to give you that little bit of expert RN advice just to help you navigate or alleviate a h ealth concern. I am a Niagara Hospital nurse outside the GNG hospital doors just as surely as I am inside the GNG walls.Local media and web logs have been fille d with complaints and opinions of some of our community residents and leaders in the last week. The community has responded with anger and fear based on their o wn understanding and experiences. RNs can never enter into the public discussion this other than to encourage people to come when they are not well, and not to d elay treatment.We are knowledge workers and professionals. That is how we balanc e overwhelming patient needs and can re-prioritize minute to minute based on a m ultitude of competing criteria. We are never so proud as to think we get it righ t all the time and cannot listen to concerns and do bettert omorrow. We feel sor ry when and if we hear that we have not been able to do our best.Are there probl ems in the Niagara Health Care System? Yes there are. Are there some good and ca pable people there at every level working hard against all odds to address those problems. Yes there are. Are there people who no longer work there because they didnt meet the mark? Yes there are. Is there potential within the current ranks to turn it around?Yes there is. But time will tell. Community support and effect ive political advocacy will be a very necessary piece of this.In our work as Hos pital nurses we find reward in the knowledge from ourinside view, that the number of people who leave GNG with concerns about the care they have received are very few in comparison to the numbers that come through our hospital day to day. Peo ple are mostly private about the good things in our lives that are private, abou t successful surgery, about a baby born way too early that is now a bright healt hy toddler, about making it out alive after a cardiac arrest or stroke, about ac curate quick diagnosis of a treatable condition. Going to GNG for help and treat ment is part of our private normal lives, and most Niagara residents are gratefu

l for and value the care we always have and still receive there for ourselves an d our families.Heather Cross,RN scribd.