Even a casual look at any of the different media will confirm that our health services leave much to be desired. The emergency rooms are overcrowded; patients must endure long waits. Elders and those with special needs are poorly serviced. And environmental deterioration adds to the problem. The shortage of doctors and nurses is beyond critical. Our health services need a major overhaul.
This situation is pronounced in MRC Pontiac. Numerous services that were available from the Pontiac Community Hospital in Shawville are no longer available locally. Patients now have to travel to Gatineau, Montreal, Maniwaki, Renfrew, Pembroke, or further for many basic services. Obstetrics, gall bladder problems, and many tests, consultations, routine treatments, and health services now require travel outside of MRC Pontiac.
Beyond the travel and accommodations needed when health services are not available locally, is the issue of erroneous scheduling. I have had to make three separate trips for a bone density test. On another occasion, I was scheduled for a follow-up from an operation in Montreal, only to find on arrival, that the doctor was not scheduled for duty at the hospital on that day. Visits to specialists in Gatineau or Montreal have had to be rescheduled as a regular part of these consultations. These, and many other scheduled visit errors, have only led to loss of time, extra costs, and frustration.
A further problem seems to be related with the medical records handling system. Information about scheduling, prescriptions, medical history, and test results rely heavily on the patient, who may not always be knowledgeable about specific medical issues.
The one significant, positive factor in our health system is the dedication and professionalism of the staff. Despite shortages of staff and the special needs of some patients, they are always prepared to demonstrate care and compassion. So, the problem lies with the political system that refuses to allocate needed resources. Certainly, the COVID crisis increased respiratory problems, and the flu has added to the strain on our health services. But the basic problem – the failure of our politicians to provide funding for needed staff – has been around for many years.
Our politicians proclaim that Canada has one of the best health service systems on the planet. This may be so – as long as one does not need to use it. But this could be changed to a real, significant health system if only the political will was there.