What's Wrong with Healthcare?

Thinking inside and outside of the healthcare box. After 41 years of family practice, what's happened to Canada's healthcare system?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Healthcare Emperor Has No Clothes

I am continually amazed by the apparent lack of perception on the part of the MSNM (mainstream news media) and its resistance to reporting the facts.. The headlines in Friday’s Calgary Herald read “Medic crunch raises alarms”. The article goes on to discuss some concerns on the part of aldermen and women of the city of Calgary pertaining to the fact that, on at least six occasions this year, no ambulances were available in the city of Calgary for emergencies. In Edmonton, this situation arose 18 times this year in the month of June alone! But “crunches” in health care should no longer be front page news; healthcare usurping all other public funding, should be.
The article appropriately points out that, should there be an emergency in the city, and no ambulance available, someone’s life may be in danger. What is not pointed out is that if the ambulance simply dropped off people at the hospital emergency departments and didn’t wait around, many more lives would be in danger. There are some basic reasons why the EMS people must wait around:
1) There may not be a bed in the emergency department in which to put the patient
2) There may not be a physician or other qualified person available to assume the care of the patient
3) EMS is run and paid for out of the City of Calgary budget, so the Regional Health
Authority is basically manning part of the emergency department using city finances.
4) Every patient must always have an authorized, capable caregiver assigned to them. The EMS person cannot leave a patient that is ill without another authorized person assuming responsibility.
Spokespersons for the region state they are at present looking at training and hiring persons to take on this responsibility in the future. Don’t hold your breath. They may put in a skeletal, token number of this type of staff, but the most cost effective way to run this area from their perspective is to always use the city EMS. The number of people accessing the emergency departments from time to time varies tremendously. To staff each emergency department in the city sufficiently, and not use EMS, would mean that very often the hospitals would, during relatively slow times, have these trained people standing around doing nothing. My guess would be that the region will put in a person or persons (we can’t have the perception that lives are being put at risk) sufficient only to minimize the “red alerts” that occur, but continue to use EMS to the fullest. The fact is that our medical system is putting lives at risk everyday with long waiting lists for a myriad of services. I suppose we should all take solace in the fact that the risks are “calculated” risks (categories of emergent, very urgent, urgent, and elective), and that this is being done in a cost effective way. The other fact that we should all be aware of is; Similar to the Calgary’s Health Region usurping the resources of the city of Calgary, our Canadian Health care system is usurping resources from many other worthy and competing interests-----education, infrastructure, the environment, etc. There is only so much taxpayer’s money to go around. When health care siphons up (like a huge vacuum cleaner) an increasing share of public money annually, someone suffers or is put at risk. When will the main stream media (MSM) get on side on this issue? For years headlines have been “raising alarms”; but all we hear are the same clichés and reassurances, while over the years our health care system has slipped precipitously in the eyes of the World Health Organization. When will the News Media see that “Our Health Care Emperor is not wearing Clothes”?

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