Writer. GP Anesthetist in Georgetown, Ontario. Mom of four.
I am a small-town family physician and anesthetist currently working out of Georgetown, Ontario. I have worked in many hospitals across Ontario. I am a happy mother of four. I am wife to my best friend. I am friend to some, critic to others, and sarcastic mocker of all.
Although I am new to blogging, I am no stranger to writing. I have been writing stories since I was a child. Writing helps me to clarify my perspective on the world -- and for that reason alone, I will always come back to it.
A breakthrough in negotiations has Premier Kathleen Wynne sounding optimistic about an eventual deal with doctors. Yet doctors in Ontario remain thoughtful and wary after a hard-fought battle for Binding Arbitration. Look around. The health-care system is broken.
Bill 87 will make ordinary physicians afraid. Any clinical exam, any touch can be interpreted as sexual abuse. Tell me: how will I examine a breast lump? A groin hernia? A heart murmur? If Bill 87 passes unchanged, its intrusive, scorched-earth philosophy will create a paralyzing culture of fear in medicine.
More than anything, I want this government to get real about managing health care. Media has a key role to play in that. Like it or not, media informs our perception of reality. Media shapes how and what the public talk about. That influences government priority. And that is why balanced journalism must be protected.
When Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Health Minister Eric Hoskins released a joint statement promising to look at binding arbitration to the Ontario Medical Association (OMA), physicians across Ontario were shocked - and more than a little wary.
It's shocking that he took something as complex as a broken health-care system and twisted it into a story complete with a bad guy and a motive in less than 140 characters. Flippant statements let people - important people like those in government - ignore the danger. And then, they don't have to fix it.
Jim's is not that uncommon a story. Each day I work, I see the reality people face: patients and family caregivers breaking under the pressure of waitlists. Ontario's "world-class" health-care system is failing the very people who paid a lifetime of taxes to prop it up.
Two weeks before Christmas and just as Queen's Park Legislature stops all business until February 2017, Ontario's minister of health lobbed an explosive proposal at doctors in the province. Though Ontario's physicians have been working without a contract since March 2014, the government's latest PR stunt was met with widespread fury.
Ontario needs genuine health-system reform. Instead we get the Patients First Act. Doctors are hopping mad. So we are turning our backs on those who willfully ignore our warnings and our advice. They will now stand alone as their committees waste more time and taxpayer money on a sketchy health-care "transformation."
The healthcare system is broken, leaving doctors craving healthcare reform. Ontario funds an inadequate number of medical services for an inordinate number of patients. This mismatch creates a bottleneck in which care is triaged and/or rationed: the sickest are served while the rest wait.
We simply do not have enough to give everyone the care they need right when they need it. In an ideal world, we would. That is the definition of timely, universal health care. But in real-world Ontario, we are forced to triage patients and ration health care. Too many people, too few publicly-funded resources.
The reason I care what my provincial government does is simple: health care in Ontario is in a downward spiral -- I see it everywhere, even in my small town family medicine practice. At this point, the government must step up and stabilize the situation. I've been in independent practice for seven years. In that short time, I have watched resources dwindle.
Merits and failings of the contract aside, many wonder about the aftermath of this vote. Ratify the contract and what -- ration care and pinch pennies? Reject the contract and what -- face a vengeful government's unilateral cuts? The uncertainty inherent in the contract is mirrored by the uncertainty of the unilateral actions that we have weathered for the past 18 months.
The OMA ramped up their aggressive endorsement: ads appeared on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Calls for a balanced discussion were met with threats from the OMA: "it's either the PSA or more cuts." Rules govern how such votes occur. The OMA's methods rigged the votes towards a "yes," seemingly breaching them all.
They outsource services to the U.S. -- services that now cost more than they would if provided here. They waste much-needed health-care dollars on bureaucracy and failed ventures. They ignore ordinary people as they die on ballooning wait lists. They offer Band-Aid solutions to complex problems. This is not acceptable.
I believe the public should know how taxes are spent. More importantly, the public should know their money is wisely spent. With physician billings, though, I think we're chasing the wrong number. Billings are a crude, misleading measure of value for money. In isolation, they cannot and do not tell the story we need to hear.
Dread and despair, uncertainty and panic ebb and flow around thoughts of my medical career. Most days clamour with stories of clinics closing, physicians leaving and patients dying on waitlists -- all flatly ignored by provincial leaders. Some days, I even want to quit. After only sx years of independent practice, I'm burning out.
We need health-care reform. To do that, we need an honest conversation between patients, government and front-line workers about what can be covered, what should be covered and what must be covered. We can't have it all. So we need to talk about what we all can have. To get there, doctors must be part of the conversation.
I am completely disillusioned by the Ontario Liberals and in particular, Health Minister Eric Hoskins, the man who is supposed to champion health care in Ontario. And I mean all of health care, not just nurses and hospitals, but doctors too because we each play a vital role.