Health care un­der pres­sure

The Central Voice - - Editorial -

It’s one small story out of many, and a fa­mil­iar one, too.

That doesn’t make it any less dif­fi­cult or painful, but there may be more sit­u­a­tions just like it on the way. Many more.

Res­i­dents of Fogo Is­land want full-time, tra­di­tional dial­y­sis ser­vice on the is­land, and it’s easy to un­der­stand why: right now, is­land res­i­dents who need dial­y­sis and want the usual treat­ment face a three-hour drive each way to Gander, a process com­pli­cated by weather and the va­garies of the pro­vin­cial ferry sys­tem. It’s a trip that some pa­tients are mak­ing twice a week, even though the prov­ince has tried to lessen the travel bur­den by pur­chas­ing home dial­y­sis units. The home units haven’t solved the prob­lem. “Some peo­ple have tried it, but they were very un­com­fort­able and ner­vous with it. They have dis­con­tin­ued us­ing this home sys­tem to travel to Gander,” Fogo Is­land Mayor Wayne Collins told The Cen­tral Voice. “And with the risk of some­thing go­ing wrong, the pa­tients right­fully don’t feel com­fort­able do­ing it them­selves.”

That doesn’t mean it’s fis­cally fea­si­ble to bring full-scale dial­y­sis to the is­land.

“When you look at the ex­pen­di­tures gov­ern­ment would have to un­der­take to bring this here, you can un­der­stand where they are com­ing from, but it still doesn’t do any­thing to im­prove the com­fort of the pa­tients here,” Collins said. “It’s very un­for­tu­nate be­cause the added costs to a pa­tient on Fogo Is­land ver­sus a pa­tient else­where is as­tro­nom­i­cal to say the least.”

It’s a mi­cro­cosm of a big­ger is­sue. Health care is the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment’s sin­gle largest ex­pense, the prov­ince is des­per­ately strapped for cash, and as the pop­u­la­tion, par­tic­u­larly in ru­ral parts of the prov­ince, ages and shrinks, the cost per pa­tient grows.

Fi­nan­cially, it’s next to im­pos­si­ble to hold onto the ser­vices the prov­ince’s health-care sys­tem cur­rently has, let alone add new ex­penses, no mat­ter how much they would ben­e­fit res­i­dents in need of care.

So what’s the choice?

Re­duce ser­vices? That would save money, but in ad­di­tion to putting lives at risk, re­duc­tions in ru­ral sup­port ser­vices would also move well­pay­ing jobs away, mak­ing com­mu­ni­ties even less vi­able.

Move pa­tients in need of treat­ment, or that treat­ment it­self, fur­ther and fur­ther away from ru­ral ar­eas, cen­tral­iz­ing even more? That adds still more strain to pa­tients, who ei­ther have to travel for care or make the ex­pen­sive de­ci­sion to re­lo­cate — a de­ci­sion that’s even more dif­fi­cult if they can’t sell their ex­ist­ing homes for a rea­son­able amount.

With oil prices trend­ing low and the cor­re­spond­ing im­pact on the prov­ince’s fi­nances — and with the fis­cal strains of prom­ises like in­su­lat­ing ratepay­ers from in­creased elec­tri­cal costs be­cause of Muskrat Falls — we are more and more go­ing to find our­selves be­tween a rock and a hard place.

We will hear more of th­ese sto­ries.

We don’t have the fis­cal flex­i­bil­ity not to.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.