Bodyscape: Isolation, Health, and the Woman’s Voice
need for the air ambulances to alleviate that problem. He says the service has “a place
in Saskatchewan. The distances are so great. It's not that rural hospitals aren't good, but
some patients need specialist treatment.” The moral is, in a province where the people
are so spread out, sometimes heroic measures are needed to provide what is considered
normal medical care in an urban centre.65 This emphasis on the health of the provincial
community could be seen as indicative of a relational society.
Nonetheless, the isolation from health care and the resulting worry remain
recurring themes even in more contemporary plays. In a recent interview, Sapergia
spoke of the continuing fear experienced by some of Saskatchewan’s rural residents
living too far away from medical treatment:
Sapergia - I suppose Saskatchewan is the place where you would expect that sort of thing. I think everyone has a horror story of how someone in their family died or was incapacitated because the wrong diagnosis was made and it wasn’t always necessarily the fault of the physician, sometimes it was the state of medicine. McWilliams – They were far away from the hospital... Sapergia – I’ve written about, and this also comes out of my mother’s family’s experience living on a ranch near Old Wives Lake, people losing babies thirty miles from town because the roads were impassable in winter.
While not consciously setting out to write a series of plays focused on health care
issues, Sapergia confessed that the frequency with which medical themes emerge in her
work could be a reflection of her Saskatchewan upbringing: “I don’t know whether that
was just a coincidence that several pieces dealt with questions about health. You could
say that just growing up in Saskatchewan, it’s something we think about, along with the
65 Kim Dales and Roy Morrissey also touched briefly on the air-ambulance theme in their play Turbine Time – which played nationally as a 5-part series on CBC’s Morningside in 1987. The play was the story of Sandy, a northern bush pilot who is working out of La Ronge to amass flight time on his record. As part of his job, he flies medivac flights. The plot focuses more on Sandy’s personal voyage of self discovery as a pilot and person, but medical flights do appear.