Sunday, October 01, 2006

That's not logic, it's paranoia

I've lived in Canada for almost three years and to this day, I still don't completely grasp how the health care system works. From what I understand, there was national health care across the country. It turns out that each province (provinces are like states for those unaware) runs their own health care system. Here in the #1 province Ontario, the health care system is called the Ontario Health Insurance Plan. On the streets, the cool kids call it OHIP. Anyway - something like 70% of our taxes in Ontario go to funding the health care system. This includes everything from local hospitals to paying family physicians.

I'm bringing this up because we had a mini-crisis here yesterday. The local hospital (and my front yardneighbor), Grand River Hospital announced that they would be temporarily closing their emergency room due to a lack of staff. The closing had been planned for a while, but just announced yesterday - and it seemed to take the Ontario health ministry by surprise - so much so, that they came in and have appointed some type of overseer to run the hospital and deal with the staff shortage.

Now, I'll be honest - I have no idea what any of this means. I could barely understand the West Palm Beach hospital system - and they had their own problems. A few years back, a private company bought both local hospitals and started closing programs in each of them...which sucked because of course the quality of care went down. The problem here was that - if Grand River did shut their emergency room, the other local hospital (the not uniquely named) St. Mary's Hospital's E.R. would have to take in the patients who usually would go to Grand River. That would put an added stress on that E.R. and then, well, all hell would probably brake loose. If Dr. Venkman was here, he'd probably start shouting about "dogs and cats living together" - that level of mass hysteria.

Just to be clear, I'm not bringing this up because I think the health care system in the States is better. You can't compare them - they are two entirely different systems - and they both suffer from bureaucracy and lack of funding in certain areas. There have been emergency rooms in the states that had to close due to lack of staff and/or funding too.

Now thankfully, the emergency room at Grand River won't be closing down. The local TV news thinks that this will bring attention to the health care issues in Ontario - just in time for elections

Just as in the states, the issue of health care coverage and funding is continuing to be a career ending political issue. Hopefully leaders on each side of the border can look at each system and see what things work and what things don't - and use that knowledge to build better systems - rather than using the other system as a political red herring. Like Communism.

2 comments:

Nicole said...

Wow, a 24 hour turnaround! I guess the Ontario health ministry's type of overseer did an outstanding job of dealing with the crisis - he/she somehow manifested the people and avoided the shut-down. I wish the US's government agencies worked so efficiently!!

Alex said...

That is the most positive thing you've ever said about Canada :)