24 October 2008

Another thrilling encounter...

...with our health care system.

The thing is, I'm feeling a little torn about this. We finally got a family doctor after being up here since 2001... and after waiting for so long, I swore I'd be the most appreciative patient ever.

That being said... I've gotta confess it sure isn't easy... and that's completely apart from my totally unreasonable general dislike of being anywhere near any hospital for any reason.

First off, I show up at x-ray for my appointment this morning (actually 20 minutes beforehand, as instructed) and still, like at the local deli counter, had to take a number for service.

Here's something I don't get... they already had all the paperwork faxed over from the specialist... but apparently won't put it into the computer until you present your face at the intake window.

It makes for a bit of a circus, as there was the usual crowd of tottery older folks, as well as... and I'm not making this up... a blind woman and her service dog milling around in the waiting room (and I can't even begin to imagine how much more frustrating this is for her).

Call me wacky, but here's a suggestion... hire some word-processing grunt to pre-input all the requisitions into the hospital computer as they come in. It'd cut the processing time at least in half and, as a side benefit, no one would have to stand there watching all that painful two-finger typist bullshit.

When I got to the lab there was, despite my scheduled appointment, another half-hour spent waiting for the technologist.

Suggestion #2... don't tell people they have a fixed appointment if you can't deliver. I can be there at a certain time AND I can sit there for hours... my personal best is seven hours with a sick fevered child... but I resent being played.

Now the testing itself, was done in a very professional manner by very pleasant and obviously competent people and I am grateful that someone is willing to do this sort of work, but again, I wish we weren't always behind the eight ball here. At one point, in the middle of almost three hours of testing, I was shuffled off the machine table and into the hallway for 20 minutes, presumably to hot-swap some other unfortunate soul in for a gamma-ray quickie.

Frankly, it's more than a little alarming and I obviously only see one tiny piece of the puzzle. I'd hate to think what hoops dialysis or chemotherapy patients have to leap through.

Apparently the system is on the brink of imploding and I hate to think what it's gonna be like when I'm actually old and frail.

Anyway... had to get that off my chest.



Dave Hodson said...

My GP sent me for some x-Rays about a year ago. I had a very different experience than yours, but I didn't go to the hospital.

I walked 2 offices down the hall from my doctor's office, where there was an x-ray clinic. I had no appointment, I handed them the paperwork from my GP, filled out a couple of forms, and before I was finished with their paperwork, they were ready to take me in. There were probably 4 other people in the waiting room ahead of me, but they were moving fast, so I wouldn't really call it a 'waiting' room. They had an efficient front office operation, a well organized layout of change rooms followed by x-ray rooms, and I couldn't have been in there more than a total of 15 minutes.

Neo Conservative said...

a private clinic, dave... why, that's so un-canadian... who would actually... uh, wait...

"If, as Dalton McGuinty is boasting, the Liberals have been improving the Ontario Health Care system over the last four years... why would Belinda Stronach go all the way to California for cancer surgery?"


Dave Hodson said...

It probably was private, but what was that line that Jack Layton always used... "Canadians should pay with your Health Card and not their Credit Card" or something like that? As if paying with the Health Card doesn't cost us anything! I paid for my x-rays with my Health Card at that clinic (and boy did I pay, thanks to Dalton's health tax, err premium)!

Besides, aren't just about all of our medical facilities private? Last time I checked, my GP's practice was an independent for-profit business. If it wasn't, she couldn't make a living. She just happens to get paid by the taxpayer, just like my x-ray clinic did.

By the way, I wouldn't be surprised if the x-ray clinic has lower costs than what it would take to do that same x-ray at the hospital across the street. It was a remarkably efficient process. But then, as Canadians, we're all supposed to tough it out and wait in pain or in lineups for our medical care. How un-Canadian of this clinic to provide a quality service. In Layton's or Dion's world, it's important that we all get the same level of care, even if it is crap. Access to quality service comes second. Just make sure you treat everybody exactly the same at all costs, and don't allow anybody anything better, even if they want to pay for it themselves. Canada--where equality of outcome is more important than equality of opportunity!

Come to think of it, there are many private medical services that I've gone to, in the last year alone, that I did have to pay for with my 'credit card' My dentist, my chiropractor, my phisiotherapist and my optomotrist. Those who like to say that we have a universal public health care system need to get out and stop watching the CBC.

Anonymous said...

Neo...as an insider I have a few things to say, but not here. I'll send you an e-mail.It'll get your BP up.I work with great pro's..it's admin and 'Ontario' that are causing the problems you experienced.
That's all I can say here. I hope more 'outsiders' find out what goes on before the next provincial election.

Neo Conservative said...

i have a handful of readers in the health-care profession who occasionally fill me in on some of the more maddening aspects of this crumbling monolith.

and yes... it makes me nuts.

i also have a buddy who's an als medic in toronto... you don't wanna hear what he knows.