To your health.

We were listening to Deb Mathews, Ontario Minister of Health and Long Term Care, the other day.  She was in town through the wonders of modern telephony.  She was having a telephone version of a town hall meeting with Babelites on the subject of health services in our province.

We do not recall ever meeting Dr. Mathews but have heard good things about her and wanted to hear what she had to say.  Being home alone for the evening and having not yet eaten, we put the program on the kitchen phone speaker and prepared a light dinner while listening.  That was a mistake.

We have never having been good at multi-tasking.  The Minister was talking about meeting community health care needs when we inadvertently sliced our thumb instead of the dinner roll that was being held so carelessly.  We were standing there getting blood all over the counter and thinking how much we hated those commercials by the Ontario Government about health care options.  That is where you see someone do something such as burn their hand in the kitchen and then stand there and consider all the health care options instead of heading for the medicine chest.

Since we have not been able to get a family doctor in Babel, that listed option was out.  We have no idea where to find a nurse practitioner and phoning the local MPP’s office to find one seemed like a slow procedure.  Going to the local hospital or a clinic for a four to six hour wait among all those germs, while real emergencies were handled, also seemed impractical.  After all, two stitches and a hand painted with antiseptic were hardly worth the wait time.

We finally stemmed the flow of blood and, with a one-handed application of a couple band-aids, resolved the problem.  Sure, there will probably be a scar on our thumb but it will help us to remember to always hold knives properly.

Regretfully, somewhere along the way, while doing our first-aid bit, we hung up on Dr. Mathews.  We really wanted to discuss finding family doctors with her.  It sounded like she was full of ideas and maybe she could help.

We occasionally get new doctors in Babel and they take on new patients.  The problem is that they do not want any older patients with chronic health concerns.  Why would they?  The payment system is devised for doctors to process their patients rapidly and efficiently.  That does not work with the older patients.  These people want to spend the doctor’s time talking about their various ailments.  Some of them are intelligent and, having had much life experience, want to discuss the options for their treatment.  Many have chronic conditions that challenge the doctor’s knowledge of their trade.  These people obstruct rapid, efficient processing.

The Ontario Medical Association has made it clear to doctors that they should not discriminate against these older patients but nobody seems to be paying any attention.

In Babel, the doctors get around the OMA brass by letting the hospital front for them.  The hospital controls the paperwork for people who want a family doctor.  They demand information such as age and ongoing health concerns and then stipulate that patients will be barred from the practice if they lie about anything.

We tried to take the hospital to the Ontario Human Rights Commission for this discrimination but the lawyer-adjudicator claimed that the hospital did not control the doctors.  When we pointed out that the hospital gave the doctors the right to practice at the hospital, the lawyer ignored the connection.  We lost.  And, not being a lawyer, we could take the case no further.

We really wanted Dr. Mathews to suggest a way around this discrimination but missed our chance.  We are also trying to remember not to use our left thumb on the space bar while typing.  That thumb is not healed yet.

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