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Trudy Klassen: Canadian health care needs a bath

I was told that if I wanted a different family doctor I would need to “fire” my current one, be without a family doctor for one year, and then I could request to be put on a wait list for a new family doctor. This wait list has 5,000 people on it.
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Health care needs fixing but nobody seems to want to take on the challenge.

Tommy Douglas, visionary of universal access to health care, said: “Social justice is like taking a bath. You have to do it every day or pretty soon you start to stink.”

Our health care system was created when a bath happened in a tin tub behind makeshift curtains in the middle of the house and the bathwater was shared by all. It’s time we take our health care system, even if it screams, into a shiny white tub with lots of clean, soapy water. 

I like our family doctor. However, after finding out I needed to go for the third mammogram in a year, I thought it would be nice to find a doctor who was more comfortable dealing with women’s issues.

Oh, the dreams of the innocent!

I searched the internet and made several calls to try to find a list of doctors accepting new patients. When I finally found the information, I laughed, because what else would I do?

I was told that if I wanted a different family doctor I would need to “fire” my current one, be without a family doctor for one year, then, and only then, I could request to be put on a wait list for a new family doctor. This wait list has 5,000 people on it. Read that again. In the city of Prince George, there are FIVE THOUSAND people waiting for a family doctor.

How can we possibly call this great health care? I have a deserved reputation for being assertive. How do people less assertive manage this system? If this is the average experience, people will die of treatable disease because they will fall through the cracks because of a misplaced trust that the “system” will take care of them.

It’s time for Canadians to demand better. Canadians are hard working and innovative people, but we have made a massive mistake in placing so much blind trust in those running our health care system. By completely insulating this massive organization that sucks up half our provincial budget from any real scrutiny, we have allowed the system to slowly break down for want of a cleansing bath.

Remember universal health care was so that people could get health care without going bankrupt. How many people go bankrupt while waiting for surgery? How many people on the wait list decline to the point they cannot every fully recover? How many people are dying of treatable disease because the system is so sluggish and difficult to navigate? This matters and we should all be angry about it. Enough to have the difficult conversations required.

Talking about changes to health care is something most politicians don’t talk about unless they are talking about pouring more money into our decrepit system. This has to change. Times have changed. Our needs have changed. Technology has changed. Our politicians need to hear from us that things have to change. It is time our system is modernized to serve us better. It’s time to take our health care system into the bathtub.

Trudy Klassen is a Prince George writer.