Thursday, November 22, 2007

Canadian patient's dilemma: wait 3 min. at U.S. border, or die in Canada?

This story by Doug Williamson from the National Post (Nov.21, 2007),"Patient irked by border delay":

"Nurses 'Stunned'
WINDSOR - Canadian Rick Laporte is used to being pulled over by U.S. customs when he goes to Detroit.
But he wasn't expecting the same treatment as he lay in the back of a Windsor ambulance that was taking him to Henry Ford hospital after suffering a major heart attack.
When he discovered he had been stopped for three precious minutes at the U.S. border, while the ambulance was sent for secondary inspection because of a computer selection, he wasn't all that upset at first.
"I kind of blew it off," he said yesterday of his initial reaction. "It's not the first time I was stopped at the border."
It was only after speaking to staff at Henry Ford hospital, where he underwent an emergency angioplasty procedure, that the potentially deadly border delay began to sink in, he said in his first interview since the Nov. 12 incident.
"When I told the nurse in Detroit, they were stunned. They said every second counts," the 49-year-old union representative said from his critical-care bed at Windsor Regional Hospital.
Mr. Laporte said he was originally taken to Windsor Regional, where he suffered a heart attack and had to be revived twice. He woke up to see members of his family standing around him.
"They were all standing over me, crying. I said, 'This doesn't look good.' " Then he was bundled into an ambulance, with a police escort to the tunnel, which had been cleared for him. In pain and drifting in and out of consciousness because of the morphine he'd been given, Mr. Laporte recalls only bits and pieces of what happened as the ambulance pulled up to U.S. border guards.
"I remember him pulling up to the first checkpoint. I wasn't aware of anybody opening the doors."
All he remembers of being sent for secondary inspection is the reaction of the Windsor Regional nurse travelling with him.
"What caught my attention was the nurse saying, 'What the hell are they doing?' I had no idea what was going on. I don't remember seeing them. You really don't care about much at that time," he said.
Mr. Laporte returned to Windsor three days ago after spending seven days at Henry Ford hospital.
He now feels the delay may have contributed to permanent damage to his heart, the extent of which will not be known until tests are conducted six weeks from now.
Yesterday, the U.S. Committee on Homeland Security asked the U.S. government to explain what happened when Mr. Laporte's ambulance tried to cross the border.
"We urge you to immediately review relevant departmental polices and protocols to ensure that emergency personnel are able to respond to urgent situations in a timely manner without compromising" U.S. border security, the committee said in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.
The committee said it was concerned because of a previous incident days earlier, when Canadian firefighters were stopped at the border for eight minutes as they raced to help their colleagues in the United States who were battling a fire."

This Ontario patient who had emergency heart surgery in Detroit made the point that a three-minute delay while his ambulance crossed the U.S. border may have contributed to permanent damage of his heart.

True...why should we wait for timely healthcare?

But also, isn't waiting for healthcare in Canada a morbid matter of national pride? Isn't anyone 'stunned' about that?

A three-minute border wait to save your life in the States, versus a ???-wait in Ontario - which choice do you make? There was obviously no medical hope left for this patient that Ontario could provide, besides forcing him to travel - like so many before him - to the States for treatment. Truly unbelievable.

Should the focus of this occurrence be solely on border procedures? Shall we demonize the Americans for delaying and possibly preventing timely treatment for this patient?!

Has anyone bothered to ask why Liberal Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s and Health Minister George Smitherman’s supposedly-superlative health-care system continually exports sick Ontarians to the States for treatment in the first place?

'What the hell are they doing', indeed.

[Please, once again, don't tell Michael Moore about this lone, isolated, anecdotal, rare instance of a Canadian patient who is forced to Moore's supposedly-sicko U.S. system for treatment which Canada's utopian universal healthcare could not provide. Detroit helped another Canadian, yet again. Of course, somehow this will be spun as a victory for Ontario's single-payer health monopoly, not a systemic failure!]

Liberals enjoy denouncing the American health system while at the same time using it to cover Ontario's own systemic, single-payer health-care monopoly's inadequacies.

As I asked in a recent post (see: Can McGuinty's Liberals be held negligently liable for the suffering of Ontario patients? Nov.11, 2007) shouldn't McGuinty's and Smitherman's Liberal government be held liable for the suffering of patients due to their health-care monopoly's failures to provide timely medical treatment??

Regardless of any border protocols, McGuinty's Liberals should stop victimizing Ontario patients by shuffling them off to the States for care that rightfully (so we're told) should be available at home in Ontario.

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