Thursday, February 16, 2012
The entire Canadian health care system is suffering from a terrible terminal disease. It’s trapped in an archaic mindset that reminds me more of bloodletting than modern medicine.
Spending is unsustainable and the inefficiencies are inexcusable. Provinces are wasting our money. Approximately half of all provincial spending pays for medical coverage that simply isn’t serving the needs of the Canadian people.
In fact, it’s failing us. We all know dramatic changes need to be made, yet politicians don’t have the stomach for it.
Most of us have experienced the frustration of those emergency room waits. Too many of us have gathered cobwebs waiting on lists. But when lives are put at risk by this medical mess, it’s way past time for some Canadian common sense.
Laurie Anderson is a 33-year-old mother of two young boys. Laurie’s been patiently waiting for years for the care she needs. And she’s fed up. She recently started a Facebook page titled: “This is what it is like to be a patient in Saskatchewan.”
You can read her story on my website.
Laurie has fallen through the huge, crumbling cracks in the system. And the valuable time wasted by the abysmal service she received has put her very life in jeopardy. Her story isn’t just a Saskatchewan story. It’s a Canadian story.
Laurie’s been treated for years for ailments she simply didn’t have. Not only was she misdiagnosed, she bled on waiting lists month after month to get even that misguided attention. A patient in purgatory, dying in line to see a specialist. A wait that included multiple trips to her local ER, only to be sent home with some Advil.
Taking her life into her own hands, she personally had to shop herself around to different doctors and hospitals, encountering service from staff more akin to jaded airline employees than those working in a modern hospital. As she begged for help, she was treated more like a number than a person.
After the long, agonizing wait came the real insult. A complete failure to diagnose the cancer that was growing inside her. A very curable kind of cancer if caught in time. She not only lost her ability to have more children, she may lose her life.
Her treatable cancer has now metastasized. Instead of a 90% survival rate, her life is now a 50-50 flip of a coin. The system failed Laurie, failing all of us in the process.
Do you think if Laurie had the option to pursue private care she would have received the same treatment?
Do you think the Mayo Clinic would have made her wait for years for care while giving her attitude?
Do you think they would have treated her like a burden if she showed up with a credit card?
We need a fundamental shift in attitude. As taxpayers we pay for the care we receive, but we aren’t treated like customers. As a result we’re not getting the care we deserve.
It’s time dithering politicians stopped worrying about their political capital. And it’s time many Canadians re-evaluate their irrational fear of a multi-tiered health care system. One that would fill those crumbling cracks and ease the burden on public care —before more patients fall into the abyss.
And that’s Canadian common sense.