Dr. Alex Nataros shows his Christmas spirit during the Port Hardy Rotary’s annual holiday cheer float. (Submitted photo)

Dr. Alex Nataros shows his Christmas spirit during the Port Hardy Rotary’s annual holiday cheer float. (Submitted photo)

Doctor says his one Christmas wish this year is for government to hire physician assistants

Dr. Alex Nataros will be writing regularly for the North Island Gazette

Every Christmas night after gathering with my extended family for a round of gifts and feasting our way through the turkey and trimmings, we would sit around the TV and put on my grandfather’s favourite movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

While many would be asleep by the time the angel Clarence got his wings, it was a most cherished annual tradition and, as I’ve gotten older, has become one of my favourite movies as well.

Recently I was asked by Rockpro owner Bill Milligan to join for the Port Hardy Rotary Luncheon. There I witnessed how our own little “Bedford Falls” builds community resiliency, as I met dedicated small business owners like Davida of Café Guido, Kristin of Hardy Bay Drugs, Rotary President/Sporty’s owner Alfons, Councillor Janet and others, together whose collective vision and deep commitment to our community so evidently nurtures compassion and care in our homes and on our streets.

Rotary invited me the following night to the annual Christmas Cheer Float. I had barely finished up in clinic that Friday night in time to get an Ugly Christmas Sweater from Red Apple and suit up for singing. But I’m sure glad I made it on the float. Starting at the Airport Inn, we blasted out Christmas classics and waved to the hundreds of families that gathered on the streets and in the windows, trailed by Santa and his elves handing out hugs and candy canes. From Fort Rupert to Storey’s beach, Quatse Crescent to Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw’s Tsulquate Road, around Glacier Crescent and Thunderbird Way through to Elk Drive, children’s smiles lit up the night.

In Port Hardy and our North Island communities, resiliency matters. Life is beautiful but harsh. Between boom bust economic cycles impacting our resource economy, the deep cutting legacy of colonialism and residential schools, and yes, the inconsistency of our health-care system, it can be challenging to survive, let alone thrive.

Key to resiliency is community: The bonds that help us weather life’s ups and downs, the “rainy day fund” of social support when crap hits the fan. We have a strong community – it shines in our Facebook groups and on our streets.

My goal is to continue building community and resiliency in our local healthcare system. I need our broader community support to do so. We each have a role to play. As a starter, we need to open our homes to our visiting healthcare workers – travel nurses and locum doctors, their partners and sometimes their pets.

Talking to our visiting nurses, accommodation is a major perceived barrier to providing care in the North Island. I have discussed this issue over the past week with our MLA Michele Babchuk and MP Rachel Blaney. Both are committed to improving housing on the north island. But for immediate solutions, look to that unused basement suite or spare bedroom.

Finally, my one wish this Christmas is for the provincial government to let me strengthen our medical community by hiring a Physician Assistant. This will allow us to keep our emerg open and let me sleep when I need it. It will give me the ability to see hundreds more patients in clinic. It is a demonstrated solution to the rural healthcare crisis.

Please contact our MLA to express your support for Physician Assistants. That is my Christmas wish.

For ideas/topics you would like explored, please email suggestions to: alexnatarosMD@gmail.com or find me online Facebook/Twitter “Alex Nataros MD” Note this is Not for personal medical questions – for these you should present to clinic/emerg or call 8-11.

Dr. Alex Nataros is a new resident to Port Hardy and will be regularly writing for the North Island Gazette

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