Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Care Bed Catch-22

One of the Mt. Pleasant aunties is trying to get her elderly and increasingly confused mother into a live-in care facility. She found an available bed in a facility in Burnaby, but she says they won't let her mother move in there unless she has a doctor. And not just any doctor, it has to be a doctor who will pay housecalls to the care facility. The auntie has already made eight calls to doctors and no one will take on a new elderly patient. One doctor said he would put her on a waiting list - he already has 100 elderly patients.

This auntie says that it's crazy to build more care spaces if they can't admit anyone. She says someone at the care facility told her that the rules have changed recently, making it more difficult to admit patients. She also recalls that a decision was made years ago by the Canadian government, to limit the number of students who could enter medical school. It is also extremely difficult for doctors who immigrate to get licensed to practice in Canada. I tried to get a friend of mine who's a doctor in the US to immigrate, but she said she couldn't practice here without going back to medical school. My dentist's assistant was a licensed medical doctor in Russia.

Having lived in the US, I hate to say anything good about that system, but they do have something in their private sector healthcare that would be very useful for a public sector health service to emulate. When I went to a clinic with a dogbite, it was treated by a physician's assistant. When I went for a pap test, it was done by a nurse practitioner. Our BC government has gone the other way, putting allopathic doctors in as a bottleneck for everything medical. And they removed coverage for all the other specialties that could help keep people from turning to allopathic doctors, including chiropractic, naturopathic medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, dentistry, and eye care.

What I also learned from living in the US is that when government is bent on privatisation of services against the public's will, they first do things to undermine the public service. One auntie in this neighbourhood almost fell for this trick around the recycling difficulties (see previous post on this blog). After she brought back in her recycling and then missed the pickup, she started cursing all levels of government and saying "we have too much government." But her next door neighbour said no, that we just need government that will do its job.

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