Wednesday, September 15, 2004

An Open Letter to the First Ministers

Dear Prime Minister and Premiers,

I am aware, as I am sure are most Canadians that you have spent the last few days in Ottawa, trying to come to an agreement to fix health care “for a generation”. This is a noble cause. I am sure you receive many letters from Canadians regarding poor service or their dissatisfaction with the health care system. This is not one of those. I want to relate a positive occurrence I had with one of our family members.

This member of the family is getting older and had a condition which turned out to be crystals in his urine, similar to gall stones, making urination very painful. We were able to get an appointment immediately, and drugs and diet changes were prescribed. One month later we had a follow-up, which determined that, although the problem was starting to clear up and he was feeling better, it was not fully resolved. The doctor decided to continue the original treatment, which is still ongoing, and he is doing better every day. I am confident that he has received excellent care and is on the road to recovery.

Specifically, I am impressed with the following aspects of our visit:

We received an appointment almost immediately, and did not have to use an emergency room. This is of great comfort, as it is difficult to watch a family member in pain.
There was no lineup at the office, as in some doctor’s offices, and we were in to see the health care professionals very close to our appointment time.
The staff was excellent, completely professional, and very caring. In fact, the office phoned our home a week later to ask if we had any questions and to inquire on the health of our family member. I was especially surprised that it was the doctor himself who called.

Based on what I have heard from friends, other family and the media, it seems our health care system has some serious problems with waiting times, access and aspects of care. Yet my personal experience does not bear this out. Now, you must be thinking that such a positive letter is a rarity, and perhaps this did not take place in Canada. I can confirm that it did, and, with the extremely positive experience I had, I am hoping some aspect of the operation of this clinic could be considered by you in order to improve the system for all Canadians. For, in this example, there is indeed a catch. The excellent care our family member received was not in a provincial system. It was within a completely private system, for this family member is a cat. “Koko” received a far higher quality of care than I can get for myself. I find it incomprehensible that the governments of Canada seem to think that a cat deserves better health care than a person. Surely some positive aspects of this private system can be incorporated into our public system in order to bring the quality of human care up to that of animals.

Marcel Berridge
Edmonton, AB


Anonymous said...

Dear Marcel;

You're pretty sanctimonious about the care a cat gets. And I don't hear anyone saying that people should get less care than a cat does: you are really reading a lot into things.

But while you were paying that hefty cat bill for the visit, did you ever stop to think just how much value you got for your dollar? Oh sure, you can pay for platitudes and pillow mints, but the point is not to support the Vet's next Porsche purchase. In the people health system, there is a limited number of dollars and an almost unlimited number of things that Health care is responsible for. And with the Baby Boomer generation fast approaching retirement it will be left to those of us WITH JOBS to support the system.

Yours Haughtily,

William Frobisher
Medicine Hat, AB

Anonymous said...

What's that matter Marcel, cat got your tongue???

Or did you drop your humus onto your 3-day old Star Trek T-shirt while watching Oprah???

William Frobisher

MB said...

Dear William,

How are things in Medicine Hat? A good friend of mine lives there, and I really love the land in that area.

At first, I thought your comments were something from my friend, sent as a joke, as they appear to be an obvious troll. However, my friend works for the federal government in Medicine Hat and he would never waste Canadian tax dollars by writing comments to a blog that was completely unrelated to his job during working hours. Therefore, I have decided to reply to your comments as if they were serious.

I looked up sanctimonious in my Gage Canadian Dictionary and it means: making a show of holiness; putting on airs of sanctity; prending to be pious.

I do not feel I am "holier than thou" regarding care of the cat. The purpose of my open letter is to bring attention to the fact that I can buy faster, better quality care for my cat than for myself. Indeed no one is saying people SHOULD get less care than a cat, but I am saying that cats can get better treatment than Canadians do. Does this not seem strange to you?

I do not know if we got value for our dollar. The cat is getting better, but it cost us a few hundred bucks. Considering my GF got the cat for free from a shelter, and we could probably get a new one for free, it does seem like a lot of money.

I agree with you that there is a limited amount of dollars in the "people health care system". My point is that I, and many others like the Fraser Institute, do not feel those dollars are being deployed as effectively as they could be. I want the system reformed to use those dollars more effectively. I could not care less who delivers my health care, public or private, so long as I get the best care for the lowest price and I think more Canadians are starting to come around to that view.

P.S. I watch Dr Phil, not Oprah.