Germain in Haiti: A pointed question about medical access
[Anthony Germain is nearing the end a week-long assignment covering Team Broken Earth, a group of Newfoundland and Labrador nurses and doctors, in Haiti.]
Hospital Bernard Mevs.
I'm going to wake up in St. John's tomorrow and ask myself: "What just happened?" But … why wait?
What happened this week was made possible because of unrestricted access. Videographer Keith Burgess and I could go anywhere, any time and interview and record anyone who gave consent.
I hope the communications department and management at Eastern Health across the Parkway from the CBC in St. John's took note of this week's stories.
We had to travel a great distance to discover genuine "transparency," the buzzword in the communications world for the past decade.
The procedures Keith and I covered here were not paid for by our tax dollars. Team Broken Earth's fundraising and the time the volunteers take off at their own expense make these trips happen.
I know when we return home it will be difficult, if not impossible, to ever come anywhere close to providing this kind of coverage of what our nurses and doctors actually do.
Patient confidentiality must be a respected founding principle of the disclosure practices of medical information to journalists. However, even in cases where patients are willing to waive their privacy rights, genuine access remains difficult.
Any direct request I have made (as a first step) to Eastern Health — at all levels — has been followed by an eye-rolling explanation of the bureaucratic hurdles needed for approval for interviews.
- Day 1: The start of a journey
- Day 2: Ingenuity and an overwhelming need for care
- Day 3: The messy stuff is better described than shown
- Day 4: Life may be precarious, but it does go on
- Day 5: The many orphans of Port-au-Prince
- Day 6: Germain in Haiti: They also came to teach
Kaminski has never turned down any of my interview requests, but the general availability of a CEO is not transparency.
And that's a pity.
It should be possible to report on what our nurses and doctors do without having to fly thousands of kilometres to see their skills and hear their words.