Sunday, February 24, 2008

Allow U.S. hospitals to open Canadian branches

My earlier posts...

 - Will Liberal Transport Minister Jim Bradley open new 'sicko' lanes at U.S. border to ease Canadian healthcare exodus? (Nov.26, 2007),


- Health-care Exodus: More Ontarians forced to U.S. for treatment (Feb.20, 2008),

...touched on the case of Windsor resident Rick Laporte being rushed across the border to the United States from Canada for emergency heart surgery which was mysteriously unavailable in Ontario's Liberal-controlled, state-run medicare system.

The Windsor Star carried these letters to the editor following up on their initial Nov.21, 2007 story:

George Shum wrote in “Health System Top Priority”, (Windsor Star, Nov.27, 2007):

“I read with incredulousness the story of Rick Laporte who was summoned to secondary inspection on the Detroit side of the tunnel. He was in an ambulance with lights and sirens activated en route to the Henry Ford Hospital after suffering a heart attack at the Windsor Regional Hospital. He was defibrillated twice at the WRH before the emergency transfer took place.
The case of Mr. Laporte illustrates an important point about our health care system, that is, we should not depend on the largesse of another country when it comes to the well-being of our fellow citizens.
Both Henry Ford and William Beaumont Hospitals have offered excellent medical and surgical services to Canadians who live in southwestern Ontario (for the right price of course). Since Sept. 11, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Homeland Security have become so focused on their mandate to protect Americans that we are seeing increasingly unreasonable and absurd incidents taking place at border points.
Take the case of the Quebec fire truck that was responding to an emergency request for assistance in upstate New York.
It too was pulled over for secondary inspection and precious time was lost in the process.
Rather than trying to influence U.S. politics, we should fix deficiencies in our health care system so that the safety and health of our citizens will not be compromised and subject to the whims of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Homeland Security.
It is time to re-evaluate our dependence on the Michigan hospitals for emergency, life-saving treatment.
We already have elective coronary angioplasty treatment at Hotel- Dieu Grace Hospital. Is it not a natural extension to include emergency angioplasty treatment to obviate the task of sending our citizens to the U.S.? To do this properly the Ministry of Health has to provide adequate resources to the hospital to perform these tasks and the community will likely need to recruit more cardiologists who perform this procedure.
It is gratifying to hear expressions of concern from Mayor Eddie Francis and Federal Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day.
It would be nice to hear what our Health Minister plans to do to safeguard the health of our citizens in southwestern Ontario.”
S. Fitzgerald wrote in “MP Brian Masse’s action infuriate NDP supporter”, (Windsor Star, Nov.29, 2007):

“I have been a longtime supporter of the NDP but I have finally thrown in the towel.
Windsor West MP Masse's actions this week made me rethink my support. It is unconscionable to me that he should use the Rick Laporte holdup at the border for political reasons and blame the federal government for their inaction.
This is not the first time an ambulance has been held up at the border. In fact, this occurs regularly, so why does Mr. Masse make an issue of this event in Parliament now? Could the fact that Mr. Laporte is a high-ranking member of the CAW have anything to do with Mr. Masse's actions? Was this another way of scoring points with the CAW?
Be very clear, without the votes from the CAW, Mr. Masse would not have a snowball's chance of getting elected here or anywhere else in Canada. I have been following Mr. Masse's political career and find him to be an opportunistic finger-pointer. It seems he is in way over his head, politically speaking, and in my opinion has no business being an MP.
I feel that Mr. Masse's actions contravene the NDP's platform of being a people's party. Remember several years ago when Mr. Masse posed, with the cameras rolling and the press at hand and holding up traffic in Windsor's east end, near a proposed railway inspection area? Opportunism shrieked loud and clear. It seemed a good way for Mr. Masse to score some good political points.
During a recent breakfast, Mr. Masse also took a potshot at local MPPs for their inactivity regarding the border issue. There he goes again pointing fingers. Why doesn't he use that finger to pen some real legislation that would address the border issue, in a real way and for all people, instead of just grandstanding when the opportunity arises? In politics there are show horses and work horses and I think it is clear which category Mr. Masse falls into.
Fortunately, the rest of Canada is not as politically naive as they are in Windsor so the NDP will never obtain true power. Who will help us if they ever do? Who will Mr. Masse blame then?”
Bob Hodge wrote in "OHIP’S inflexibility means family suffers", (Windsor Star, Nov.29, 2007):

“I have been following the story of Rick Laporte and his treatment in Detroit and am genuinely relieved that he is now OK.
While his case has demonstrated the inadequacies of health care provision in Windsor, it is indeed fortunate that he was able to go to Detroit for treatment.
My father-in-law is currently under assessment for a double lung transplant and we will find out if he is a suitable candidate just before Christmas. While acceptance on the list should be a reason for celebration it will also bring the whole family a lot of emotional pain and financial hardship.
To accept a place on the transplant list means that he will have to move within two hours of Toronto, effectively London or closer. OHIP will offer no financial assistance while he is waiting for the transplant, and this could potentially be for up to two years.
He will be isolated from family and friends, his lung condition means that even walking across a room is almost impossible and his quality of life is not very high. Presently we live from day to day and visit him at home in Windsor at every opportunity, but if he moves to London or Toronto time together will be much reduced.
There are only four hospitals in Canada which can perform lung transplant surgery (and one is only available to Quebec residents) so the problem is not unique to Windsor. What is unique to Windsor is our proximity to Detroit.
The transplant team in Toronto freely recognizes that there are world-class transplant facilities available in Detroit which could perform the surgery but OHIP will not pay for the treatment in the U.S.A.
If OHIP was more flexible my father-in-law could continue to live at home, surrounded by his family and friends and be within 20 minutes of a transplant hospital able to perform the surgery.
I wish any resident of Windsor and Essex County a quick and uneventful journey when they have to go to Detroit for medical treatment. I only wish that we had that option.”
Bob Harper wrote in "U.S. health-care offers advantages", (Windsor Star, Nov.30, 2007):

"I was very glad to hear that Rick Laporte's life was saved even after the inexcusable delay at the border.
In the Nov. 24 Windsor Star, it was revealed that Mr. Laporte is a CAW executive member and a member of the board of Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital. Isn't it the CAW and Mr. Lewenza who rail against the evil, terrible American private health care system for our much better Canadian socialist system? Meanwhile, in the same edition is an article from a lady whose husband waited two weeks to get to London for his operation where he died. Mr. Laporte tells us of his excellent care in Detroit with daily visits of three specialists and daily tests.
I hope Mr. Laporte and Mr. Lewenza go back to their brothers and sisters and tell them the advantages of the private health care system over our present fiasco in Canada.
A suggestion would be to allow one Detroit hospital to open a branch in Windsor accepting our OHIP cards and private payments. In a very short time, we would realize which system is better.”

St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley, Ontario's Transportation Minister, and Liberal health-care monopoly supporter, hasn't said much, if anything, about that Windsor situation, or about his Liberal government's health-care patient-export policies. I've asked.
It looks like the best hope for many of Ontario's patients is to obtain their 'universal health care' in the United States. That's the bottom line for Liberals: pretending they have 'universal health care', but actually delivering it by expediting patients to another country - whose system those very same Canadian Liberals would deem illegal if it was in Ontario !!
This is where blustery Liberal health-care rhetoric meets health-care reality.
Whose health system is supposedly sicko? The American one; or Ontario's, which relies on the American system to provide backup?
It's probably a matter of time before a similar border-delay situation develops here in Niagara.
Mr. Bradley, you refuse to provide answers when a constituent asks you questions about your Ontario government's failing heath-care monopoly.
Mr. Bradley, do you have any response, comments or answers to the health-care concerns which the above writers Shum, Fitzgerald, Hodge, and Harper raised in their letters?
Or will you and your Liberal government ignore Windsor's health-care concerns as well?

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