Yes, he is in the twilight of life, but he is my father. More importantly, for 61 years he has been my mother’s lifelong love. They went through WW2, they immigrated to a Canadian farm from S. England. Dad pursued several means of employment to provide a comfortable living while raising three boys.
On Monday, Aug 17th, he stumbled, fell, and broke his elbow. An ambulance took him to the local hospital. There the emergency doctor told Dad they could NOT set his arm. He would have to be taken to a larger hospital (a half-hour’s drive), when there was an opening in the Orthopaedic Surgeon’s schedule.
Dad was to wait, in the local hospital’s bed, numb with morphine. Imagine —uncertain days of pain, medicated fog and dysfunction, imposed upon you because Universal Health Care could not ‘fit you in’? My mother lay awake, alone, for two nights, sharing his discomfort, and fearing his death, until that opening appeared on Wed Aug 19th.
An ambulance van drove Dad to the scheduled appointment with the Orthopod. “We’re sorry, an emergency came up”. The window of opportunity had closed. At least Dad was now at the hospital where the Orthopod worked.
It was not until the next day, and another empty night for my mother, that Dad’s elbow was set!
The recovery time for an aging person’s injury is many times longer than that of the young. Time IS life. This delay will extend Dad’s recovery even longer than it might otherwise have been. Dad knows his days are numbered, and now he will spend a substantial portion of those days in achingly slow recovery.
Many Canadians, when waiting for treatment, simply assume that someone else was suffering a more urgent crisis… and of course, that is true. But, note the altruist lean their view reflects: “someone else’s need was greater, so we should politely wait.”
Dad’s simple broken elbow was not set for three days & nights, at a time without a flood of injured people from a wrecked passenger train or airliner (imagine if there were). It was NOT that a greater emergency took precedence, it was because the Health Care system could/would not accommodate him. For all intents and purposes, Dad’s experience was routine.
Sure, all the medical staff involved were trying hard, and cared, but all of them were content to work in that state run system. Yes the doctors accepted such treatment of their patients/customers as being the nature of ‘health care’. As Dr Hendricks put it: people must discover that, “it is not safe to place their lives in the hands of a man they have throttled. It is not safe, if he is the sort of man who resents it—and still less safe, if he is the sort who doesn’t.” (Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand)
The politicians that put this system in place in Ontario, in 1985, gave it the Orwellian name, “The Health Care Accessibility Act”.
I predicted that it would be 15 – 20 years before it brought about a publicly noticeable decline in health care. Yes, in the first five years, or so, lots of money was pushed into the system. That ‘flush’ period is characteristic of socialist funding of any portion of an economy.
Then conservative journalists publicized the sky rocketing costs of Health Care. The same Liberal government that pushed through “The Health Care Accessibility Act” insisted that it could contain provincial Health Care costs by reducing the number of doctors. (Think about that one!) Even as facility improvements were common, the Ministry of Health set about limiting per-student funding to university medical programs!
Then Health Care ceased to be news.
In ~1995, through a Chief of Staff, I learned that a major hospital was using an entire ward for equipment storage rather than patients. At the same time there were patients lying on gurneys in the halls, until beds became available. The hospital is located in a rapidly developing city of 750,000 people, and an entire ward is closed! Why? Because the government would not provide enough funding for extra nurses to staff the closed ward. Clearly, health care was experiencing certain forms of decline. I knew it, doctors, nurses and other medical personnel knew it, but it was not newsworthy. Politicians kept announcing that we had The Best Health Care System in the World.
The first complaints large enough for the media to report started appearing about the year 2000: someone had noticed that thousands of Ontarians could not sign on with a Family Doctor. No matter what their medical concern, they could only go to an Emergency Ward. Family Doctors had too many patients. If they took on more patients, an MD risked billing more than the established caps, and the government would not pay. The MD would have to work for nothing if s/he were to accept another patient. Thus, no health expert was tracking the health of thousands of people, except insofar as Emergency Wards keep records.
Now, after 24 years, most functioning Ontario doctors do not resent socialized medicine enough to speak against it, and a great many promote it. Dr. Hendricks would not feel very safe here. “Health Care Accessibility”? —in a pig’s eye!