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Local Health Care Fails International Visitors

Ann Ramsey was enjoying her vacation in Big White, with her husband and three daughters. When she injured her knee, then suffered a blood clot in her leg, she thought things couldn't get any worse. She was wrong.
Local Health Care Fails International Visitors

Emergency Wait (Canada's Health Care Oxymoron)

What should have been a fairly routine medical treatment nearly ruined her vacation.  Her treatment required a daily test of her anti-clotting medications, and then some advice from her doctor on the evenings blood thinner.  During the week the blood test was done by a visiting doctor in her family's condo, after a physiotherapy visit.  The vial was sent downtown and reported to the doctor who advised her that afternoon.  Since all labs in Kelowna are closed on weekends, and the doctors at Ski Patrol have a strict policy on not seeing patient unless they are acutely injured on the ski hill, she spent the better part of her weekends waiting in the Emergency Department of Kelowna General Hospital (testing required an Emergency physician order). Perhaps she hadn't seen the Kelowna Courier story earlier that week about KGH overcrowding, because she was suprised and dismayed by the ineffiency of it all.  Unlike most Canadians, she had not gradually come to accept that in a supply-limited public Medical System like Canada's Medicare, demand is limited through inconvenience (there would be a lot more ER visits if people didn't expect to wait for hours). 

Ironcially, having purchased good travel insurance, she was afforded a level of treatment and diagnostic services most Canadians can never afford.  While typical wait lists for an MRI in the MSP "insurance" plan run several months for a non-WCB injury, she was able to get one the next day ($800).  While paying privately meant that her bills would be very high (Goverment hospitals charge non-Canadians triple what they charge uninsured Canadians), it did not guarentee the level of service would be (the several hour wait for a 5 minute MD consult was $700 each).

Hopefully, the future will bring a much needed improvement to the level of Health Care available at Big White.  Increasingly. MSP indications are that the service will be provided Privately, and if Canadians want it; they are going to have to pay for it.  If locals want a voice in the future of local health care, they are directed towards the Conversations on Health (next forum Feb. 17th in Kelowna at the Grand Okanagan).

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