Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Health Care?

Health Care revisited.... I have heard a lot of people discussing whether Canada's social health care system practises 'rationing' or not. I've heard some say it's a triage system (should it be???), etc etc. And now I have an example for you - my mother has paid into healthcare for about 40 years, through taxes, premiums, and extended health care payments (Alberta Blue Cross). My dad, who passed away in 1996, paid in for 30 years. Right now, my mom needs help. She has a sore on her leg caused by a biopsy about 3 years ago and it keeps getting infected and causing painful rashes up the back of her leg, and has become some form of dermatisits. They have tried various treatments and things went belly up when her family doctor quit his practise, sending her into the 'walkin clinic' and ER system. She is forever told "you should be seeing your family doctor about this", when there are none taking patients on so she is in limboland. Finally last week, an ER doc decided to start IV medication to combat the painful infection. Only problem is - the province will not approve my mom 'taking up a room' during the course of her treatment, so she was literally sent home with a big bag full of syringes of antibiotic and saline solutions. She has to have someone else, as in UNTRAINED people, pushing these into her IV line 3-4 times a day. Her friend offered to stay with her a few days and do it, and now her friend has her own life to attend to so mom has been coming to my house. I have never put IV medication in someone before, I don't know what to watch for with air bubbles, line problems, etc - but we have NO choice at all. The doctor actually said to mom "There is no point you being in a room and a nurse coming in 3 times a day to give you the medication". No point?? What is the point then? There is a needle stuck into my mom's vein 24 hours a day, vials of medication to push air out of then attach to an air lock on her IV line, and push in during a specified amount of time (3 vials each time, 3 times a day). I'm so sorry that it's not 'monetarily feasible' to put my mom in hospital while this is going on. I'm sorry that the province thinks it is more frugal to have completely untrained people work the IV line.

It's not that bad, I did it yesterday and will do it again today,, mom happened to find a retired nurse in her building to do the late night one so one trained person was found... but seriously, this is RIDICULOUS. She is almost 64, has never been in hospital in her life other than to give birth to my brother and I, and yet she is being sent home to administer her own IV medication. The next step involves a saline bag which we will literally have to hold in the air, instead of hanging on those special racks in the hospital. Yes I know a lot of people have to do medication like this at home, but that is usually long term home care (whether done by themselves or a home care nursing staff). This is for a week. What's wrong with putting a woman in the hospital who has been paying into the system for 40 years? Shouldn't she be treated like a paying customer instead of a freebie? It's aggravating. She is a very nervous person and is not happy with doing this, but has no choice.

Now comes my rationing theory --- when I was pregnant last year, I was kept overnight for observation due to complications. I received wonderful care, doctors checking on me, nurses coming in every hour to see me, etc. All because they cared about the little life inside me that was struggling. Two days later I had an emergency Csection at 33 weeks and a team of 9-12 people to make sure baby and I were okay. It was fantastic care, I was very pleased with all of it.

So why doesn't my mom receive that same special treatment? Is her health not as important as a new baby? Is her 64 year old body not as important at a 34 yr old or a fetus? All I got in my IV for my overnight stay was a saline IV (no meds) because I was a bit dehydrated. They had a bed ready for me immediately... but my mom gets sent home with a bag full of meds and vials and syringes, and literally ONE sheet of typed paper explaining how to do the IV (which was crap, made little sense to me, and I had to follow mom's verbal instructions instead). Why isn't she receiving top notch treatment in the same city, same province, same hospital? That's where the rationing theory comes into play - people that are older or sicker may not receive the same level of care as a younger person who has more to offer to the future of the world. Am I saying the theory is true? No - I can't say that. But it is highly suspect.

Canada's wonderful social care program - look after your own health at home and get your neighbour to help you, but make sure you pay your taxes to fund the very program that put you there. Mom said if she had the choice, she would pay to have her own hospital room and use her extended health insurance to buffer it. But - we DON'T have that choice. And people south of our border need to be aware of these circumstances because it might be happening to them soon too. The hospitals pick and choose who to keep in because they only have a certain amount of money for nursing staff, cleaning staff, food staff, etc and if they deem it too expensive to look after you on the social system, they will send you home with an IV kit to knock on your neighbour's doors for help too.


  1. Is this in Ontario? 4 years ago I had the same issue, agressive dermatitis in my leg, and my family doctor sent me to emergency. She gave me antibiotics and said "If it doesn't get better in a couple of days, go to emerg right away".

    Look story short, I had a needle stuck in my hand for a week and had to go every 12 hours for an antibiotic drip. The emergency room would give me an appointment time and I wasn't there longer than 30 minutes.

    Sounds to me like your mom got stuck dealing with an ass.

  2. No this is in Alberta. Mom had 2 different ER docs. Frist one gave her meds that you had to do every 6 hours and if someone else was in emerg before her, she had to wait til they got to her. That was too much for her, and driving there at 2am was ridiculous, so they changed her to a med that she took every 8 hours (3 times a day). But even then, going up to the hospital for 11pm was getting stupid so they showed her friend how to do it herself, and they went home. Mom had the choice to go there, but she lives on the other side of the city and driving late at night is not her forte (does not see well at night), and it's $4 a shot for ER parking as well. She went in this morning because I told her yesterday I think her IV line is getting loose, it was raised up and starting to look irritated. This morning they put a new line in and she will finish off her meds... but then a different doc came in and asked why on earth they were doing IV. He has an oral medication that he said is as strong, if not stronger, than the IV meds and wants her on that for 10 days instead. So now she will be changing to those instead of the IV drugs. Hopefully they will work. It's just frustrating... I wish we had a two tier type of system where you could pay if you want, or use the provincial system if you want/have to. There are more and more cuts all the time to keep up with the cost of health care, number of people using it, and the funding just isn't there to keep things top notch like they should be. It's pretty sad!

  3. Where is that 4.00/pkg cigarette tax going, that was put in to fund health care. That was a few years ago, by the finance minister-Shirley (forgot her last name)
    I have called the ministers office on several occassions to ask, where did it go. Neither ministers office knew anything about it.



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