The State of our Health Care

On tonight’s 6:00 news I discovered that, according to a study by the Conference Board of Canada (link to pdf), BC leads the rest of the provinces when it comes to our health care system. It also touched on the fact that BC residents are one of the least happy with their health care system. What I have since discovered is that, while the newspiece said our health care was rated the best, this was not what was actually stated in the report. Media misleading the public to paint a pretty light on things? I would never have guessed…

In actual fact, BC came in at the top in two categories:
Health Status Indicators – life expectancy and level of physical activity (in essence, healthy lifestyle)
Health Care Outcome Indicators – Policy, program, or clinical interventions on quality of life (anti-smoking laws and the like)

What they glossed over during the newspiece was this: BC came in last for the third category.
Health care utilization and performance indicators – the public’s perception of health care as well as how quickly the public’s needs are being met. (wait times and patient satisfaction.)

We aren’t very satisfied. In my opinion good health care is directly relative to patient satisfaction.

I can attest to that dissatisfaction – since we moved out here a year and four months ago, my husband has had a series of health problems all related to each other, that no one was able to solve – or even accept that they were related (often due to stress and reactions from the initial injury.) In fact, he went to approximately 13 doctors in that timespan who either brushed him off completely, sent him to specialists (who in turn brushed him off completely) did a bunch of tests and ultimately told him that they didn’t know what was wrong with him, and he was going to have to learn to live with the pain he was going through because they didn’t feel like dealing with it.

Needless to say, we became frustrated with the whole situation. I can tell you first-hand he isn’t the kind of person who makes up pain for attention; nor is he a hypochondriac, or prone to the kind of exxageration that keeps you home from work for a week because you’re afraid to move.

He has since been to see a Naturopathic doctor, who has somehow managed to treat almost all of his problems but one. We’re still trying to find out how to deal with the last one (another appointment with another specialist is lined up for the beginning of March.) But I digress, let’s get back to the point here.

To quote our health minister, George Abbott: “Often what we see with the health-care system is that it tends to get characterized by the very, very small percentage of things that go wrong as opposed to the large percentage of things that go right.”

I don’t agree with that. I don’t hear about a small percentage of things that go wrong. It took them over six months to process our BC Care cards, and we only moved within Canada. I spoke to everyone I knew who had relocated from other provinces while we were going through all of that, and all of them had similar problems and headaches getting health coverage upon moving here. We only ended up getting our cards a bit earlier than they were going to process them because of the hubby’s health problems – doctors were starting to get annoyed with taking his Ontario Health Card for so many visits.

Visit after visit to the doctor’s we have experienced a very low level of attention and help, with doctors being downright rude when they decide they don’t want to help anymore since they don’t know the answer. After a series of 1-2 minute rushed doctor visits, it was starting to feel like a revolving door. There were nights that I took him to the hospital, he was in so much pain – that was the only good care he really received, although those nights lasted between 5 & 9 hours, sitting in emergency.

It seems if I mention our problems over the past year with the health care system, everyone has a similar story to tell – and none of them are positive. Taking into account that I don’t know everyone in BC, plus the fact that people like to tell horror stories, that still doesn’t discount enough for me to think that this is a small percentage of things that go wrong.

We have bigger problems than that, and while I’m happy we have good things going for us (like those two points that we came out on top for,) that doesn’t mean we should pretend that the rest of the issues don’t exist. Just ask a nurse if they think the system is good. That’s what I plan to do.

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