HomeHealthCanada’s healthcare system let patients feel hopeless

Canada’s healthcare system let patients feel hopeless

Canada’s healthcare system let patients feel hopeless

Liz LeClair suffered excruciating abdominal pain and vomiting for 36 hours at her home in Dartmouth, NS, without an ambulance arriving to help.

Her ordeal is just one example of how Canada’s healthcare system, which is severely overstretched and suffering from labor shortages, needs desperate attention, experts say.

As LeClair was gripped by escalating pain earlier this month, she called the province’s virtual health number.

“My signs and symptoms were symptomatic of possibly some type of bowel obstruction,” she said.

But she was told it would be nine hours before she could speak to a nurse.

She called 911 and waited more than two hours for an ambulance. Finally, she was told that the wait time to see a doctor in the emergency room is currently up to 16 hours.

So she did the only thing she could pray that her symptoms would just subside while family members took care of her at home.

The experience is anything but unique.

Across the country, Canadians are struggling with excessive hospital wait times, closed emergency rooms, and limited access to ambulances and long-term care, among other things, as the healthcare system lags behind.

Experts say drastic measures must be taken to help healthcare workers.

In Ontario, the provincial government recently announced it would expand some private clinic practices to address backlogs, a worrying move that experts fear could lead to increased privatization to avoid a real repair of the public health system.

Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) President Cathryn Hoy said in a press release that the move to privatization “will only line investor’s pockets, nothing more.”

She added, “The evidence is clear: Healthcare privatization leads to poorer health outcomes for our patients and has much higher overheads that are paid for by taxpayers.”

Earlier this month, ONA called for provincial Bill 124 to be repealed, saying the suppression of nurse’s wages and benefits is exacerbating staff shortages by making it impossible for nurses to support themselves.

Dr. Leisha Hawker, President of Doctors Nova Scotia, said, “We do not have enough doctors or nurses to care for all Nova Scotians and Canadians who need access to care.”

Coast-to-coast doctors and nurses say they can’t keep up with demand. According to Tim Guest, president of the Canadians Nurses Association, morale is at an all-time low.

I would say nurses are exhausted, burned out and demoralized, he said.

In BC, health experts cite burnout, low wages and mental health issues as the reasons fewer ambulances are on the road.

In some parts there is none.

Troy Clifford, president of Ambulance Paramedics of BC, said there was now a clear shortage of ambulances “every day of the week”.

“It’s not just isolating on weekends and nights and that really putting a strain on the system and impacting our patients,” he said.

In north Manitoba, at the Lynn Lake hospital, at least eight patients were transferred more than eight hours away to Flin Flon because staff shortages forced the closure of all long-term care beds.

Families only received a 24-hour notification.

A sudden transfer like this means many families are unable to visit loved ones, according to Lynn Lake Councilwoman Victoria Phillips.

“There are a lot of families living in the area who are older, may not drive, who don’t have the means to have their own personal vehicle, so it’s really causing a lot of heartaches,” she said.

One of these eight patients died two weeks later.

“She would definitely have been alone,” Phillips said.” I don’t think her family would make it in time.”

In a statement tonight, the president of the Canadian Medical Association pointed to decades of disjointed and isolated decisions as the reasons for the health care system’s current state.

He hopes to see concrete solutions to resolve this crisis at this week’s meetings between the chief executives of Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.

An earlier CMA statement in July said more federal funding was needed to address the complex, intertwined issues.

“We encourage the federal government to meet quickly with provinces and territories to resolve funding issues and develop real solutions to address systemic challenges that require immediate action, the July statement said.

Luckily for LeClair, her symptoms subsided after more than a day of debilitating pain. But she is haunted by the thought that if things suddenly got worse, there might not have been any help.

“That was the first time I thought I could die at home,” she felt very scared.

This article was reported by CTV News on Aug. 22, 2022.