Here’s to your health!

Construction of the new regional hospital is proceeding energetically. It will be big, beautiful, and as state-of-the-art as our public and private purses allow.
Actually, I hope even a little more so.
Now explorations are underway about whether we should have a northern medical school, and whether we should have a research institute associated with the new hospital and/or Lakehead University.
Wow! Can we afford all that? In a word, no. But the “afford” question doesn’t stop most of us individually from buying all sorts of big-ticket items we want or need.
Whether or not we can afford a new hospital, plus medical school, plus research institute, should we want them? Passionately? Enough to get them and be stuck with their ongoing cost?
That depends. If you are over 60 and hope to live a long and healthy life, your answer should probably be yes. The direct benefits of a medical school and research institute will take at least a decade to accrue.
But the public push for them will heighten awareness of, knowledge about, and action toward better health care far sooner.
If you are in the 45-60 age bracket, I propose that you answer, “Yes, definitely.” You may have near-adult children. Their employment chances in excellent careers will be vastly enhanced–these institutions are part of the information and bio-technology era.
The former is probably at its zenith, and the latter is strongly ascendant as driver of the global economy.
I assume and expect that we will push for high quality in our institutions. If we achieve that, there will be lots of spin-off business. Examples are:
•pharmaceutical research, possibly using our forests;
•manufacture of health aids, both equipment and supplies;
•recuperation facilities, spas, para-professional health services; and
•health-promoting tourism using our pristine nature areas.
If you are between 25 and 45, I think you should answer, “Absolutely!” You have your whole adult life ahead of you, I hope with many wonderful and varied experiences.
You may just be starting a family. You would like the best possible future for your children. Sound mental, emotional, and physical health to whatever degree humans can bring about is surely one of the greatest gifts.
There are other considerations. “The Trends Journal,” Summer 2000, points out that “the health of Americans is sliding downhill.” Life expectancy in the U.S. ranks #24, while Canada to date is #12 in the world.
A poor health care delivery system, sedentary lifestyles, super-sized eating habits, and stress-filled workdays all contribute to untimely deaths.
“Our (the U.S.) quick-fix society tends to turn to high-tech solutions and prescription drugs rather than to prevention by lifestyle and research for better problem-solving.”
Canadians often model the U.S. in this area we should get ahead of them!
Whether or not you agree with me, I hope you will join thoughtful consideration of these opportunities: a medical school with a northern issues specialty, and a health and medical research institute.
It is difficult for the project task forces to involve the whole region in the explorations. Consider this column part of the effort.
Linda wiens is an adult educator, author-editor, student of the future, and president of Quetico Centre.

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