Saturday, September 30, 2006

Waterloo Region ER Crisis Continues

It's days like this that I'm really glad I have a blog. It affords me an avenue to vent, and that's what I'm doing today, so be forewarned.

This story is big enough to be picked up by the Star (Kitchener Hospital to Close ER Sunday over MD Shortage.) However it is also a warning to other smaller Ontario communities. - Our health care system is in crisis (as if you didn't know). What makes this situation even worse in Waterloo Region is that Oktoberfest will soon be starting, which brings in a huge crush of tourists and their related emergency needs at the local hospitals. Add to that the fact that there are many people here without family physicians so that they rely on walk-in clinics (which usually only operate during business hours) and ER's for their regular health care.

The Globe is also carrying a related story on the various problems contributing to the crisis that is not just an issue in Waterloo Region (Doctors pay issue haunts McGuinty). Inadequate pay is one grievance, but also there are the problems of general doctor shortages, working conditions and the 'top-up' practices of larger hospitals that make competition difficult in smaller communities.

It is the lead story in the Record of course. I could provide a number of links, but for some reason, they seem to give me grief, so I'll just select a few quotes here and there.

First of all we have the typical finger pointing going on in an attempt to pass the buck:

Conservative party leader John Tory was shocked by the news of the closure at Grand River.

"This is the most staggering thing that I've heard happening in the province of Ontario since I've been in politics."

He attacked Smitherman for focusing more on party politics and not enough on finding a solution to the emergency room crisis.

"We got a lot of partisan bluster from Mr. Smitherman and really no taking on board of what is clearly now a terribly serious problem that is going to potentially put in jeopardy someone's health," Tory said...

"It's time Mr. Smitherman spent less time trying to deflect attention off on to somebody else, or off on to past history, and more time trying to deal with a crisis that exists this weekend in your community," Tory said.

The Health Minister for his part was blaming the past Conservative government:

Health Minister George Smitherman, however, laid the blame on Witmer, and her days as Conservative health minister.

"Elizabeth Witmer,'' Smitherman said, "is the living legacy of threats to patient safety. And it's about time she stepped up to the plate and took one ounce of responsibility for the fact that between 1995 and 2000, she sat on her hands while her community was struggling, even then. I'm struggling to make up for lost time.''

The Conservatives should have been dealing with the physician shortage back then, he suggested, because it takes several years to train a doctor.

Conservative Health critic Elizabeth Witmer is concerned about the safety implications for area residents:

Witmer said she's worried about confusion arising over where to seek services.

"My primary concern is the fact that this could put patient safety and lives at risk," said Witmer, Conservative health critic and MPP for Kitchener-Waterloo.

Witmer noted Waterloo Region residents, through donations and a regional tax levy provided millions of dollars to upgrade the region's hospitals including Grand River's emergency department.

She said the goal was to ensure the region's growing population would get its fair share of health care services.

"We no longer have our fair share."

More to follow.

From my previous post I see that Ontario isn't the only one experiencing health care problems. Where is the money going? This is a provincial jurisdiction, but it seems to be a national issue. Please weigh in with your own experiences wherever you live.

* * * *

IMPORTANT UPDATE: 570 News reports this morning that the ER will remain open now, due to the sudden intervention of George Smitherman.

My question is, why did it have to come to this to get action from McGuinty and company? One thing is clear; whether it's the natives wanting a land claim settled in Caledonia or doctors needing help in emergency rooms, you have to take drastic action to get this government's attention - or a little political blackmail.


Swift said...

Just another step in the long slow destruction of the Canadian health care system that began with the introduction of medicare. Two ERs could not sevice the needs of KW properly. It will be faster to go to the US for treatment(if you can afford it.)

Anonymous said...

We are getting premium TV commercials for out health care dollars - the newest one the Liberals put out is especially nice.

Dolton McGuinty had to raise taxes to pay his friends to make these swell TV commercials simply because that's what Liberals do.

Voters keep voting for our Soviet-style health system, and that's what we get. It will always remain on the verge of collapse because socialism doesn't work, which has already been proven, often.

PGP said...

In Manitoba we are getting new bricks an mortar....not for health care but for research centres. That and ever expanding bureaucracy in the regional health admins.

100's of millions in everything but doctors, nurses and beds for patients.

Incompetence approaching criminality by the NDP.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

PGP - Sounds as bad as Ontario! When is the next election there?

Brian said...

How loud would the caterwalling be if Mike Harris was premier and something like this happened? Where the hell is the outrage?

3 hospitals in this region, 1 just closed their ER, and another is hiring private doctors to staff their ER (although Cambridge is a huge mess, much of their own making).

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Yeah, this is a pretty big deal. You've got to have access to Emerg health care.

I heard on the evening news that Smitherman may be pulling a rabbit out of a hat to keep the emerg open another day or two. Hopefully they'll come up with a few doctors to stave off the closure. We'll see.

Red Tory said...

I don’t hear too much about people’s actual experiences. Mine have been very satisfactory for the most part. I think people need to understand the concept of “triage” when it comes to the management of an ER.

And poor, ever-frustrated old sweater guy… Hey, could you provide a link or some back-up for your whiny complaint? Darn that government, darn that medical research. Darn that evil media. Why can’t we just privatize the whole dang system? You know, it runs with such fantastic efficiency in the United States, doesn’t it? And who needs all that pesky “research” in the first place anyway? Gosh, isn’t everything revealed in the Bible? It’s ALL there isn’t it? It’s the revealed Word of GOD after all.

PGP said...

Hey RT forgot to mention BUSH!