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Archive for September 2005

Our poor, beleaguered health care system

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According to this article in today’s Globe & Mail, Canadians are more likely to visit the emergency department for non-urgent medical problems than are people in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and Britain. Is this surprising? Not really.

People have been screaming for years that our health care system is massively under-funded. The provinces are constantly haranguing Ottawa for more money. Doctors and nurses complain about how overworked and underpaid they are. You get the idea.

I understand that, for a lot of people, going to the emergency room is their only option. There is a massive shortage of doctors (not just general practitioners, but specialists in a number of fields) in Canada. This means that, for a lot of Canadians, the only way they can be seen by a doctor is to go to the emergency department. What a lot of people (and I’m including some in the health care profession and government as well) don’t realize is how much these non-urgent visits cost. It is significantly more expensive for someone with, for example, a cold (low-grade fever, congestion, cough) to be seen by a doctor in an emergency department than it is for that same person, with those same symptoms, to be seen by a general practitioner in a non-E.R. setting (doctor’s office or walk-in clinic).

A number of communities and hospitals have recognized this problem and done something to help fix it. Many hospitals now have walk-in clinics adjacent to their emergency departments. All patients are seen by the same triage nurse, but are sent to the appropriate facility for treatment (walk-in clinic for a cold vs. emergency department for a heart attack). Another solution that I’ve seen adopted (including here in London), is the “urgent care clinic” A facility that can handle all but the most serious cases (in other words, don’t go there if you think you’re having a heart attack, or if you’re arms been cut off, but do go there if you sprained your ankle).

What would be nice is for the governments (both provincial and federal) to fully support these types of solutions. I think it’s great when they earmark funds for equipment (like MRI machines), but an MRI machine is only going to benefit a tiny percentage of patients. Maybe they could find a few million dollars to help communities and hospitals to open more walk-in clinics and urgent care clinics?


Written by The Canuck

September 14, 2005 at 9:52 am

Posted in Uncategorized

I know everyone thinks that the big media companies are evil, but I hope that this is just a typo

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So all of the big television networks are planning telethons to raise money to help with the relief effort down south. In addition, they’re making donations to agencies such as the American Red Cross. But I think Viacom could do a little better.

The Walt Disney Co. is donating $2.5 million to relief efforts and Viacom said it was donating $1 to the American Red Cross.”

Written by The Canuck

September 1, 2005 at 12:56 pm

Posted in Uncategorized