Monday, October 18, 2010

There Is No Rationing Here, Move Along Folks, Nothing To See...

Early last week a man I have known for about 10 years went in for surgery in Calgary. After the surgery, he suffered a heart attack. He has been stuck in Calgary for over a week waiting for bypass surgery. Waiting? I'm sorry - what? Why is he waiting? He had a heart attack, he was already in the hospital, already had a surgery and was recovering well until a heart attack cropped up - so why is he waiting?

Oh wait, he was supposed to have surgery on Friday, was prepped for it on Thursday, but guess what? He didn't get it because an emergency case came in where the man was worse off than the man I know. Okay - that's good, get the dire emergency case out of the way... But here we are on Monday and the first man still has not had his surgery. You could say it's not an emergency because he is obviously surviving so far without it - but he cannot go home. He is medically advised to wait for surgery (which should be this Thursday now), and then stay in for another week afterwards. How is this not 'rationing'? We do not have the staff on hand to provide healthcare to a businessman who has been paying into the system for 40+ years? He paid his premiums every month until they were stopped a year ago by the Province. He paid personal and business taxes all this time - and he sits on his butt waiting because there is not enough staff employed to give him what he needs in due time. Wow. What is that all about?

Is it not rationing if you keep getting bumped, do not receive your surgery for a HEART BYPASS after suffering a heart attack, and keep waiting endlessly? What is it called then? Be glad you're not dead and just be happy with your care and we will get around to you sooner or later?


  1. In the future if he is a fat business man he may not be eligible at all. This is what socialism is all about. taking the decisions and responsibilities away from the individuals and giving them to a bureaucrat.

  2. I guess you are only allowed one surgery every two weeks...

  3. Our health care system works like our beauracracy because it is a beauracracy, Patronage and incompetence rule the day year round.

  4. The time in the operating room is severely rationed for each surgeon. The doctors do have the time, but the hospital institutions do not. More time offered to a surgeon in the O.R. could mean more doctors seeking to practice there.

  5. I'm happy to see more and more people wake up to the fact that our health care really isn't up to snuff.

    Once upon a time one would hear a health care horror story and you could write it off as an anomaly. Not so anymore, almost everybody has someone who has been hurt by this sacred cow. it will be interesting to see if people wake up enough to do something instead of just complain, that will be the test of just how fed up they are.

  6. My boss asked me why this would happen here and I said 'well first of all, they only plan for a certain number of each kind of operation for year (example, limits set on cataract surgery) and then emergencies crop up that put a damper on the budgeting... plus 'nursing shortage' often does not mean there is an actual shortage of nurses but that the hospital does not have the funding to pay more nurses/open beds or wings/etc.

    What I don't understand is why the premiums were cut. That is tens of millions of dollars PER MONTH we no longer have in the system so what did we think was going to happen? It was bad enough before, now what is going to happen? Two and a half years ago my boss's husband waited about 4 days for emergency bypass surgery in Calgary and it wasn't because he wasn't healthy enough to go in, it was because the surgeon 'was away' on holiday. Sorry - does a city of over 1 million people only have one heart surgeon per hospital?? It's beyond ridiculous and it's only going to get worse.

  7. In Calgary there are a limited number of cardiac operating rooms, a limited number of cardiac surgeons, a limited number of cardiac surgical nurses, a limited number of cardiopulmonary perfusionists (they operate the heart-lung bypass machines), a limited number of cardiac surgery anaesthesiologists, a limited number of heart-lung bypass machines, and on and on it goes. These people cannot work 24/7. Also the post-operative facilities have limited capacity to take new patients.

    It is not rationing because a system does not have unlimited capacity. It is reality. When I want my winter tires changed I wait in line because there are not unlimited tire change facilities.

    None of this comforts the poor guy waiting for his bypass surgery (or his family) but unlimited capacity is not workable - it's not realistic. Sometimes limits in a system mean you have to wait.

  8. Oh my god, holy crap, I don't even know where to start with that last anonymous comment.

    But let's go with comparing buying new TIRES to heart surgery. Hmm. Do I need to go into the fact that you are not forced to buy a car, or pay for a car, or fix a car? Tax payers are not forced every single day to pay for your car, and you are not forced every single day to pay for it either. You choose to purchase, operate, and maintain your vehicle. End of story.

    But we are talking about health care. We have a right to life, do we not? And we are forced every day in one way or another to pay for it whether we end up needing it or not. Whether it's taxes through our jobs, food clothing and shelter purchases/rental, or luxury taxes - we pay for it every day, in effect paying in advance for a service we hope not to have dire need for one day but probably will at some time or another.

    Then after your years of involuntary servitude to the system - you have a heart attack. You need surgery but are told it's a long wait because there are limited resources. It is not a tire replacement on your chosen vehicle, it is a major organ of the human body that you cannot survive without. But who cares if you have been paying into the system for 1 5 or 40 years - you cannot have it.

    Let me turn your example around now - let's say you bought your car and now it needs new tires because the old ones are bald and unsafe. You head in and pay for the tires, only to be told you can't get it done for another week or two. Or a few months (since we are comparing a tire change to heart surgery, so I think it is fair to make the tires wait even longer). You paid, you're out the money, but you cannot have your new tire. Do not tell me you would not freak out at the service desk.

    And for another kind of comparison, I know that in my city there are NO allergists. None. We have to go 3 hours away to Calgary and appointments take at least a year even for nut allergies in children. Okay - but I looked up my friend's SMALLER city in South Carolina and guess how many allergists were in here immidiate area? FOURTEEN allergy specialists.

    So what's wrong here? A totally privatized system might scare the pants off of people, but why do they have so many options while we have so few? WHY does Calgary only have limited surgeons and equally imporant support staff? It's not a small city, it busted the million mark awhile ago. We have limited resources because there are limited means to support the system and THAT is the problem.

  9. Kez, you are starting to get it, except you think you have a right to "life", which you think means everyone else should be paying and taking care of you, whatever you want, from birth to death. Sorry, I can not afford you and your children. Pay for your own needs!

  10. L, I am not sure where you get that I think everyone should be paying to take care of me and my kids. In this post I am talking about how this is our current healthcare system and we have no real choices other than to leave the country or travel to the larger cities that are having a few private clinics pop up for certain things here and there. Currently, this is the way our system works and yet it doesn't work - that is what I am talking about.

    I think we should be able to purchase insurance for basic health care, just as we do for eye and dental. But in my province, that is not possible yet. So to go with the current system we are all a part of, we pay into it all these years and then when the poo hits the fan with a major illness, we may or may not get good treatment, and then someone else comes along to compare it to getting winter tires put on a vehicle and waiting in line for that.

    Anyway, I have no idea why you think that I want everyone else to pay for my needs. You have been on my blog before several times and commented on several posts, so you should know by now that I support a private system or at the very least choice between public and private until we can get things going to better serve everyone. I have spoken at length at how, in my younger days before really thinking about any of this, I was a part of several assistance programs as a single mother and I laid bare exactly how much money I received over the years for all to see so they know that when others claim the poor are not getting enough help, they must question themselves when seeing my 'finance report'. And so on.

    And a right to 'life' does not mean I think everyone should pay for it, it means that a tire is not alive and therefore cannot be compared to a heart attack patient awaiting surgery for weeks, as in the context of the comment I responded to. No one is supposed to take your life away from you, threaten your life, etc yet many countless times within our system, our lives are put on stand-by while we wait for this glorious system to help us and hope that we get help in time. Such as the Montreal man who died in ER there recently after spending 7 hours in the waiting room. The system failed him and it has failed many others, yet few seem to see this as a threat to our 'right to life'.



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