Be thank­ful for health­care in Canada

The Intelligencer (Belleville) - - NEWS - W. BRICE MCVICAR THE SKINNY

A four-hour wait. A re­cent re­quired trip to Belleville Gen­eral Hospi­tal’s emer­gency room re­sulted in that length of a wait for what, es­sen­tially, be­came a 90-sec­ond treat­ment. The trip, taken well af­ter the hours of any of the city’s med­i­cal clin­ics’ hours, was needed, but not nec­es­sar­ily an emer­gency in terms of an im­me­di­ate, life-threat­en­ing event. How­ever, med­i­cal treat­ment was re­quired and that means, frus­trat­ingly at times, wait­ing to see a nurse or doc­tor.

In the con­fines of the hospi­tal — where the tem­per­a­ture seemed to be kept just above that point where ex­trem­i­ties be­gin to lose sen­sa­tion — the wait can feel like days. Oth­ers sit on their chairs with hands wrapped in gauze, one lady snor­ing as her wait ex­tends beyond her ex­pec­ta­tions and from some­where deeper in the depart­ment comes the loud com­plaints of a pre-teen who makes it well known he’d rather be at home than stuck in a wait­ing room at BGH.

This is the norm, lately. We see and hear it ev­ery day. Peo­ple com­plain­ing about the length of time it takes to get ser­vice at one of our area hospi­tals — though, ad­mit­tedly, it seems BGH is most of­ten the re­cip­i­ent of such crit­i­cism — is com­monly heard.

And the wait can be labou­ri­ous. It can feel as though one is stuck in a black hole where time seems to have no essence. It’s frus­trat­ing. It’s bor­ing. It’s likely the last place any­one wants to be.

Yet, for all the com­plain­ing and whin­ing, a visit to one of our area hospi­tals doesn’t re­sult in one go­ing home with a $5,000 bill for a sim­ple pro­ce­dure or for re­quired med­i­ca­tion. In some coun­tries, and one need look no fur­ther than our neigh­bours to the south, med­i­cal treat­ment doesn’t come cheap. A four-hour wait, in com­par­i­son to a med­i­cal bill which could re­quire tak­ing a sec­ond mort­gage or hav­ing to beg, bor­row and steal to pay, seems a mi­nor in­con­ve­nience.

All too of­ten we’re in­un­dated with in­di­vid­u­als will­ing to be­rate our med­i­cal sys­tem and grind their teeth over what they deem is an un­rea­son­able wait time. In to­day’s so­ci­ety ev­ery­one thinks their is­sue is the most im­por­tant and they should be treated first. That’s not how it works and no one with­out a rea­son­able un­der­stand­ing of the chal­lenges and tribu­la­tions the men and women who work at our hospi­tals face daily should be able to throw stones. Maybe your cold­like symp­toms weren’t as im­por­tant as a two-year-old’s asthma at­tack or the car­diac ar­rest of the se­nior who lives down the road.

The point here is we’re too quick to crit­i­cize and too re­luc­tant to step back and think maybe, just maybe, our symp­toms aren’t as bad as some­one else’s. We have a great health care sys­tem in Canada and while it cer­tainly may not be per­fect, a four-hour wait isn’t the end of the world and if it means treat­ment is still re­ceived, well, that’s a suc­cess story.

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