Large Wards and Long Waits
Letter from Marie in Canada
August 22, 2009
See note below
This has already been happening in Canada for a long while. It came in effect gradually though, almost without our noticing it. Three instances:
- Prescription drugs are supposed to be free for seniors after the first 200$. But my mother could not get a very expensive drug because it was not covered for seniors.
- My sister-in-law's father has a blocked choledoc canal from the liver to the small intestine and they refused to do the surgery because he also has Alzheimer's disease. So, we expect him to be dead in a few days.
- My brother-in-law, aged 65, needs a heart transplant. They won't even put him on a waiting list for a donor because at his age, it is not cost effective.
I only started noticing these things when it began happening close to home. Before, I was unaware of it.
Rooms paid for by Medicare have from 4 to 6 beds. They are called wards. Men and women of any age, starting at 14, may be put in the same room. You need your own insurance to get a semi-private room. Private rooms are quite rare and more than a hundred dollars a day on top of my insurance fees. But if your doctor decides that your need the extra care given in a semi-private or private room, then you do not have to pay.
Last year, when I was hospitalized in Ottawa, I had a nice private room with my own bathroom because my doctor ordered it. But I have seen my mother in a mixed ward with five other patients and we had to spend the night sitting next to her bed because she was afraid of the men. My parents could not afford private insurance. I have seen young teens of 14 or 15, with very old, very sick, dying patients, and these youngsters were petrified.
I have read in the newspapers that, from now on, when they build new hospitals, they will not put in those wards because of the bad publicity. Those hospitals that have them will not be changed. But they are not building many new hospitals because of lack of funds.
Also, the time you spend in the hospital is very strictly regulated. For instance, you get a day for having a baby. My daughter had her first baby at 9:00 p.m. and she had to leave the hospital before nine the next morning because a new sunrise counts as a new day. My sister had a pacemaker put in at one p.m. and went home at four. Many, many surgeries that used to keep you in the hospital for a few days are now one-day surgeries, so you go home at four, whether you had your surgery at seven in the morning or at three in the afternoon. We have what they call homecare, but before the paper-work is processed, it might take three days before the nurse gets to your house.
Also, the waiting time in the emergency room is appalling. While I was waiting to be admitted last summer, there was a 94-year old lady with an obviously broken arm who had been waiting on a straight chair for 24 hours. Sometimes you wait for 36 or 48 hours. Recently, a 64-year old in my area went to emergency with severe pain indicating a possible infarctus. After waiting four hours without having seen a doctor, he went home. Later, in the evening, he had a severe heart attack at home and his wife called an ambulance. Then, he was treated and admitted. That case, though, is being treated as negligence and the hospital is apparently looking into the way the triage nurses are making decisions as to who gets seen fast or not.
Sometimes, there are so many patients on stretchers in the hallways that the technicians coming and going for X-rays, MRI's, etc., have trouble circulating. The bigger the city, the worse it is.
Last Sunday, I had to wait only four hours for an abscessed tooth since I now live in a more country-like area. I had to go to the hospital for that because we don't have any emergency dental services and I don't have a dentist yet as I just moved here. I also don't have a medical doctor yet. A very large number of people do not have a family physician, and this is one of the reasons the emergency rooms are so crowded.
We do not have enough doctors everywhere in Canada. When I was still living in New Brunswick, my doctor retired and I was four years without a doctor. The waiting list for surgeries may be more than a year, even for cancer. For a colonoscopy in Ottawa, the waiting list is three years. My friend had to wait three years for a very serious operation in her spine. Because the wait was so long, she is now permanently handicapped.
All is not so rosy with Medicare. People who have money go the U.S. for surgeries or treatment. Private clinics are not allowed here, even if you have money to pay for what you need done.
Welcome to Canadian Medicare!
Note: The two pictures on this page show an emergency "hospital" at Camp Funston, Kansas, during the 1918 flu epidemic. While it's not an illustration of Canadian Medicare, it serves as a reminder that future medical practices in both countries could easily drift toward such conditions. The current network of Internment Camps built for "emergencies" is one of many clues to what might lie ahead in these crisis-driven, dept-ridden times.
The photograph is available at several websites and at least one book. There is no copyright notice included, so it seems to be in the "public domain." See Swine Flu
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