Doug Rutherford

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Hospital care

September 2011
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I haven’t had a chance to talk about this even though I’ve been home for a week. Needless to say, hearing about declining standards of health care before going for major surgery often leaves one wondering what to expect. I was curious about how things would be, but am quite glad to report that, should you be sent off to our hospital, you don’t have to panic about the level of treatment you will receive.

This is particularly true when I apply the benchmark of what I see in other areas of Canada. I went into emergency a bit more than five years ago and saw a brand new doctor in town. He had come from Saint John, NB and was amazed that, at 10 at night, I was seen by him about 10 minutes after arrival. He was used to a longer wait period in Saint John, where he said that the average wait time in emergency was a little over 8 hours.  Apparently, in Montreal, it”s often a 12-18 hour wait in emergency.

The standard of care I received was nothing short of excellent. The nurses should be lauded daily… and I did. They are busy, and sometimes you need to wait for routine things like your daily dressing change, but they were skilled, caring and extremely cheerful throughout my stay over 2 1/2 weeks. They were always friendly and always interested in making sure that any problems you had were dealt with immediately.

Are there problems? What I couldn’t help noticing was that much of the equipment is old and some needs a great deal of help. When it takes the third blood pressure machine to finally get your blood pressure, after the first two simply no longer function, it does indicate that some things need repair or replacement. My IV pump, which Kristal, the nurse, named Fred, had a battery that wasn’t beneficial to walking. I was supposed to go for a minimum of three walks a day, and Fred’s battery would often last about 10 feet out the room door and then start beeping annoyingly (low battery were two words I began to despise).

So, let’s not panic about the level of health care here. However, let’s also keep a good eye on our elected officials to ensure that these standards are maintained. Let’s be honest. I’m a typical Canadian who sees universal medical care as a sacred cow and quite cheerfully capable of suggesting the cutting seats in the legislature as a cost-cutting method to ensure its existence. After all, one nurse is worth far more than 18 territorial representatives and costs far less…


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