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Canadian Healthcare System Struggles

As we approach the Presidential elections in the fall, there is much talk about nationalized healthcare. And some of that talk makes reference to modeling the American system after the socialized medicine system in Canada.

Two articles this week point to some of the major challenges facing healthcare in Canada. And if it weren’t for the US healthcare system just across the southern border, many more Canadians would be having trouble with healthcare.

First, from an article from the March 1, 2008 issue of the Globe & Mail, the major daily newspaper in Toronto:

Why Ontario keeps sending patients south

by Lisa Priest

“More than 400 Canadians in the full throes of a heart attack or other cardiac emergency have been sent to the United States because no hospital can provide the lifesaving care they require here.

Most of the heart patients who have been sent south since 2003 typically show up in Ontario hospitals, where they are given clot-busting drugs. If those drugs fail to open their clogged arteries, the scramble to locate angioplasty in the United States begins.

‘They rushed me over to Detroit, did the whole closing of the tunnel,’ said Eric Bialkowski, 47, of the heart attack he had on March 14, 2007, in Windsor, Ont. ‘It was like Disneyworld customer service.’

While other provinces have sent patients out of country – British Columbia has sent 75 pregnant women or their babies to Washington State since February, 2007 – nowhere is the problem as acute as in Ontario.

At least 188 neurosurgery patients and 421 emergency cardiac patients have been sent to the United States from Ontario since the 2003-2004 fiscal year to Feb. 21 this year. Add to that 25 women with high-risk pregnancies sent south of the border in 2007.”

The article goes on to quote healthcare experts, physicians and patients about the many challenges facing patients in Canada.

Then in another article in the Ottawa Citizen, reporter Mohammed Adam writes:

“So many hospital beds in Ottawa are being used to care for people who should be in long-term care or at home that it’s the equivalent of closing the Montfort Hospital, health officials say.
It’s the most serious problem facing hospitals across Ontario, says Tom Closson, the new president of the Ontario Hospital Association, far worse than a lack of money, and the crisis is deepening.

Mr. Closson said 2,800 hospital beds — or 18 per cent of all beds in the province — are occupied by patients who can’t find home or long-term care. On any given day, he said, about 800 emergency room patients in Ontario — ‘the equivalent of three medium-sized hospitals’ — wait in hallways for admission beds that are not available.”

This article goes on to describe the problem in more detail, and how part of the solution is more access to home health care.

There are two key points for us to consider out of these two articles:

1. The nationalized healthcare system in Canada is not the panacea that some politicians and critics of American healthcare would have us believe.

2. Home Health Care is a big part of the solution to major challenges facing healthcare around the world.

America has the greatest healthcare system in the world, and the greatest home health care providers. Do you agree? Give us your comments below.

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