Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ontario patients still exported to U.S. for health care

Scott Stinson wrote an excellent article about Keith Martin's health care reform ideas, see "Fight goes on after doctor leaves the House" (National Post, Nov.13, 2010).


Of course, I had tried to engage Niagara's local Liberal monopoly-pushing hack, MPP Jim Bradley, to comment on Dr. Martin's proposals - and that was several years ago.

Jim 'I hate doctors' Bradley hasn't bothered to reply.

The duplicitous Liberal Bradley was too cowardly and too arrogant to comment on, or refute, any of Martin's sensible proposals for health care reform. Bradley and that Liberal clown Smitherman acted like despots, ignoring patients' concerns and happily ramming their failing single-payer monopolism down taxpayers' throats.

I wonder if Good Ole Jimmy - or McGuinty's newest Liberal health-care hack Deb Matthews - will bother to comment on Martin's ideas now?

I wonder also if Jim Bradley - the Liberal MPP from St.Catharines - has any comments regarding Christina Blizzard's story "Patients sent to U.S. for brain surgery" (St.Catharines Standard, Nov.13, 2010):

"It is never good news when a patient needs neurosurgery.

That's why, even when there's good news about the number of patients being sent out of country for treatment of life-threatening conditions, it's nothing to cheer about.

St. Catharines neurologist Dr. Edwin Klimek says he has to send a worrying number of patients out of country for neurosurgery.

He was first forced to send a patient to Buffalo in 2005. Now such referrals are commonplace.

CritiCall, the on-call referral service doctors use to find beds for patients who need urgent care, is increasingly unable to find beds in a patient's community.

"More and more over the last five or six years, it has become much more of a hoop to jump through," says Klimek, president of the Association of Ontario Neurologists.

He's sometimes on the line for hours finding a bed for patients with life-threatening conditions such as aneurysms.

"For reasons that are not clear to me, CritiCall seems to have no up-to-date idea where an empty bed is," Klimek said in an interview.

It's not unusual for him to spend three or four hours on the phone with CritiCall, only to decide the only option is to send the patient out of province.

"As long as I can get a commitment that the person does need emergency neurosurgery, eventually I can usually persuade them that we should get on with it and call Buffalo," he said.

A cerebral aneurysm is a weakening and widening of a blood vessel in the brain. It requires immediate surgery. Even so, it is often fatal.

Other conditions, such as a subdural hematoma, may be treatable.

Imagine getting this diagnosis:

"You have an expanding mass in your brain. "This expanding mass, from whatever cause,

needs to be identified, treated, removed, decompressed - or you die."

Then imagine being told you have to be flown out of country to do that.

Klimek recalls a patient several years ago who was of Middle Eastern background and who had a name similar to one on the "no-fly" list.

You may be critically ill, but you still need a passport to get into the U.S.

"To cross the border, Homeland Security has to let you in," he said in an interview.

The Ministry of Health says fewer patients are now being shipped out of province for neurosurgery.

In 2008/09, 120 patients went out of country for neurosurgery.

In 2009/10, 202 patients went out of country. So far in 2010/11 (April 1 to Sept. 30), only 41
patients have gone out of country. That's still seven people on average a month who are sent out of province. It makes you wonder if it's cheaper to send patients to Buffalo than treat them here. "The improvement this fiscal year is due to the establishment by the ministry of an Emergency Neurosurgery Access Program," said ministry spokesman David Jensen.

"The program also provides $400,000 to each of the 10 neurosurgical centres to help reduce the number of out of country transfers," he said.

While it's good that things are improving, what does it say about this health-care system we cherish? We like to feel so superior to the Americans because we have publicly funded health care.

Yet when the going gets tough, when our system has no space, they're the first people we turn to for help."


MPP Jim Bradley is the Liberal poster boy for bashing the American health care system. Bradley loved to laugh at and deride the American health care system - even as his Liberal hypocrites sent patients to Buffalo; and while other health-care-seeking Ontarians just left McGuinty's wait-time infested province on their own. Bradley and Smitherman downplayed this trend as 'anecdotal', as hear-say, as an aberration. McGuinty's Liberals wrapped themselves in the Canadian flag of Tommy Douglas as they bashed the same U.S. system that helped Ontario's patients time and again while the Liberal's health monopoly could not - see here; here; here; here; here; here; here - or see any of the hundred 'Liberal healthcare duplicity' links below.

And why hasn't MPP Jim Bradley yet bothered to publicly explain why his health monopoly failed to provide for Helen Harris, who was shipped off to the States from Bradley's own single-payer nirvana in St.Catharines, to die in Buffalo? [see also here; here; here]

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