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Opinion: Throwing Money

You will feel just a small pinch – in your pocketbook.
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The Premiers and their health advisors met recently to try to find solutions to Canada’s health care problems. At the end of the conference, they decided that Justin needed to give them more money. More money it seems, will build more hospitals with more beds, thus solving what was once known as ‘hallway’ medicine and has now become ‘waiting room’ medicine. If the answer to our present situation was just throwing more money in the pot, we could divert taxes from other services and fix the problem.

Granted, as our population increases, we need more beds in hospitals or some place where we can care for the sick. Perhaps more critical than the number of beds, is the number of doctors, nurses, and staff to run the hospitals efficiently without exhausting or burning out said staff. Perhaps more money will help a little to solve the staff issue, but the health care career is not for everyone – and with the stress of pandemics and long hours, the profession has lost some of its attractive glow.

We Canadians love our healthcare system, however not everyone wants a career in medicine. Some of us can’t stand the thought of a needle; others cannot stand the sight of blood; some people find the stress of seeing someone in pain or discomfort too much. Add to that the distressed patient who goes ballistic and needs restraint, and the number of people wanting to go into healthcare drops even more. Throwing more money at them might buy a little time but retirement looks good after pulling long shifts in a stressful environment.

Yes, we love the system, but it is broken. The Premiers think it needs more money. Maybe.

So, if throwing more money at the health care issue isn’t going to work, what do we need to do? We need to reduce the number of people going to the hospital. We tried Telemedicine, and that may have helped a little; community clinics relieved some pressure on the lack of family doctors; allowing pharmacists to dispense pills and potions may have eased some of the overload, and the fact that one might have to wait hours in the waiting room may have deterred some from going to the hospital.

Still, that is not enough. Not trying to be facetious, but maybe we ought to be healing and repairing ourselves – with the help of the internet. Dr Google can apparently handle millions of patients, not the thousand or so that a regular family doctor can attend to on an annual basis. Of course, we all know you cannot believe everything you read or see on the world wide web. But let us say, for a moment, that you can trust the medical sites – the ones put up by teaching universities, certified doctors, well-meaning health-specific sites, and maybe Wiki. Strike that last thought even though there is a wealth of information on Wikipedia. My 12-year-old niece says don’t believe Wiki. I think she got that from her teacher.

Anyway, the first thing when you are ill is to diagnose what is wrong with you or your patient. Write everything down and put it into Dr Google’s search engine. Do not be embarrassed, because your privacy is assured until you hit ‘enter’. Now, using your analytical skills, read everything, looking for commonality of diagnosis of whatever is bothering you. Analytical skills are what you use every day in your decision making. If you are prone to bad decisions, ask someone for help – maybe a second cousin who knows a friend who is a nurse, or the holistic practitioner down the street.

Once you have a satisfactory diagnosis, look for recommended treatments. Read all the possible side effects of the chemical pills and potions. Discard any you do not like or are uncomfortable with, like the one about hourly self-monitoring your temperature with a rectal thermometer. Do not ignore the advice about drinking that daily quota of water. Once you have a list of the meds you need, fill out the prescription form. Use the template that looks official enough to convince the clerk at the pharmacy. Maybe skip the ‘repeats’ box until you test the prescription. You have already saved the government thousands of dollars in wages, avoided piles of paperwork, and maybe even joined a test trial for a new drug.

In the case of broken bones or dislocated joints, sedate or brace the patient first – like they did in the old Duster films – with a generous dollop of spirits to relax the patient. If it is the first time you have set a broken finger, brace yourself as well. Use popsicle sticks and duct tape to hold the mending bones in place. You have already saved the healthcare system thousands of dollars, not to mention the cost of gas getting to the hospital and the $6.00 parking fee.

If you need to close a small wound, be sure to clean it first with your homemade saline solution (two tablespoons of table salt in 200 ml of tap water). Use your favourite needle and black thread to do the overlap stitch and then spray the area with one of those new ‘second skin’ products that smell like a doctor’s office and stings just a little. You can say ‘you will feel just a small pinch – there all done’ if you want to sound officious. You just saved the government $500.00 per stitch – the average hospital cost per stitch in the ER.

To gain confidence in performing your own medical procedures you ought to watch any of the Hospital or Med TV shows available on Netflix or Prime. It really is as easy as the interns and doctors who portray the instant diagnosis and immediate operations in the empty ORs with viewing galleries. If you decide to use the TV as a teaching tool, skip the sex scenes unless this is a medical issue for you or your partner.

All joking aside, we probably can do much more in looking after our own health. Dr Google can educate you or at least give you hints about what may be troubling you. There are, of course, illnesses that need all the professional help you can get, and you ought not delay seeking that help. Maybe throwing money at the healthcare system is not the complete answer. Perhaps if we knew how to better look after ourselves, we could reduce the wait times, the over-crowding, and the staff burnouts.

Justin and Ms Freeland say they have run out of money for healthcare. You had to know all that money thrown at Covid was going to come back to haunt us. What to do? What to do?

For now, Dr Bill’s advice: Take two baby aspirin, pack a lunch, and go to the ER in the morning.

Bill Walton

About the Author: Bill Walton

Retired from City of North Bay in 2000. Writer, poet, columnist
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