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Just over two weeks ago I was standing in the security line at the Greyhound station in Calgary waiting to be cleared to board the bus to Cranbrook after a quick trip to Foothills Medical Centre a few days earlier by air ambulance. I had just been discharged from Foothills a couple of hours earlier and was anxious to get home where my cat Buckwheat had been looked after by friends for the previous 10 days.
I struck up a conversation with the lady behind me in the line, and after telling her where I had been, the conversation turned to the challenges facing the health care system. It turned out that she was a retired registered nurse who had also sat on health councils designed to provide input to the government from the people. Lots of luck on that one based on my own experience in Ontario more than 30 years ago. Anyway, we chatted for a bit, and agreed that a national conversation by Canadians was needed on the health care system.
My experience at Foothills and at the East Kootenay Regional Hospital this summer brought into clear focus that while I received excellent care in both hospitals, that may not always be the case as they are stretched to capacity, and packed with patients whose average age would be at least 60. I wandered about the units I was in and did an anecdotal survey on people's ages -- nothing scientific. And, the baby boomers don't start to hit 65 until 2011.
Let me be real clear on one thing. At Foothills which is a huge high level medical centre and at EKRH which is a regional hospital in a small community, I was so fantastically impressed by the professionalism and dedication to provide excellent patient care from doctors, nurses and all other staff despite how busy they were. Nobody ever lost his/her friendly attitude in either place.
To me, the coming health care crisis is the fault of successive federal and provincial governments who have failed us as Canadian citizens by looking at our health care as a cost item in a budget rather than an investment in our well being. They knew the population was aging. They knew that health care professionals would be retiring. They simply failed to invest over the years to ensure the viability of the health care system with a focus on patient care.
When I suggest a national conversation on the future of heath care in Canada, I do not mean another Romanow type commission or something run by the politicians. I am suggesting a grass roots chat among Canadians where they share their ideas, experiences and concerns about health care and let the politicians listen to our voices. Perhaps it could all be done online with sites established where people could leave their comments.
If we leave it to the provincial and federal governments, it will be more of the same. For starters in a small way I invite you to leave comments here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will post them.
And I am home now and feeling much better thanks. I will have more to say about my extraordinary experience in a bit. For the moment to the staffs at Foothills and EKRH, and the incredible paramedics who looked after me, thanks ... and to Marlo, Mike P, Maralyn, Katherine, Michael Mc, Al, Elizabeth, Keith and Mario, you are all angels!
WELCOME TO THE MICHAEL J MORRIS REPORT!!!!
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