‘Emergency rooms are closing; paramedics are struggling to answer 911 calls and hospitals all over the country are stretched to the limit. We can’t just blame Covid for all that can we?’ I wanted to hear Camp’s opinion on this issue.
‘The pandemic just highlighted what we’ve known for years. Not enough physicians, nurses and hospital personnel, underpaid care workers, immigrant doctors not able to get their Canadian license, family doctors a dying breed. Exasperating all of this? The same driving factors as in the worker’s shortage: Aging population, boomer retirement, not enough training and a lack of incentives for rural doctors and nurses.’
‘I read about a desperate senior – one of nearly one million people in BC without a family doctor – who took out an ad to find one. That got the attention of the premier who quipped he might do the same in order to get the federal government’s attention, which is woefully underfunding the provinces.’
‘Still, if you need a procedure and have enough money you can go to another province or the US and get it done. The ones who are really hurting are the usual suspects: the old and poor, the compromised and those stuck in rural jurisdictions with a lack of everything and everybody. We also centralized diagnostic equipment in the past thirty years, like MRI’s, scans, biopsies, elective surgeries, labs etc. Either you travel to the nearest center or you are one of the lucky ones who have a family doctor who will advocate for you and hook you up with a specialist.’
‘The rich can afford to be healthy and the ordinary people cannot afford to get sick.’ I said.
‘That about sums it up. Also, the demographic shift to an older population who want only the best treatments and latest technologies is adding more stress to an already overextended and top-heavy system. Too many bureaucrats, CEO’s and paper pushers and not enough nurses, doctors and care givers. For example, in Germany one health sector administrator serves 15’000 Germans while in Canada one bureaucrat serves 1’500 Canadians.’
‘Also, care-aids and hospital workers – even nurses – cannot afford to live near the hospitals anymore and are forced to commute in from the burbs. Many have opted out of the system during Covid and now emergency rooms and surgeries are closing across the country,’ I said. ‘I don’t even want to think about our elder care. Our old people who lived their lives to the best of their abilities are often treated like potted plants: Water them, give them nutrients, support them when they fall over and basically keep them alive. My parents were in that exact situation, for an exorbitant amount of money, I may add.’
‘Yes, it is sad how we ostracize our parents and grandparents into silos. Luckily all my elders are long gone to dust and ashes,’ Camp said, draining his pint and switching gears. ‘Solutions are complex and expensive but we knew twenty years ago that the grey boomer tsunami will impact healthcare from both ends. More illness due to aging and less professionals due to retirement.’
‘And of course, we want only the best. The best homes, the best cars, the latest gadgets, appliances and the best infrastructure and health care. The best money can buy or the community can provide.’
‘You’re implying we’re spoiled whiners and complainers.’
‘Not all of us. I have friends who think our healthcare is still the best. We don’t have to worry about cost and when we’re in the system we are well taken care off.’
‘Here comes Vicky with some fresh ones.’
‘To your health gentlemen,’ she said while dropping them off.
‘How appropriate,’ Camp said, raising his glass.