Off the Line: Let’s talk about the healthcare in our province, shall we?

The next time I am tempted to complain about our health care system, I know I will think twice.

 

Karen Haviland

 

As many of you are likely aware, I have had cause since Dec. of last year to travel to Trail Hospital at least three times a week due to a health issue. I also go there other times for various tests and appointments.

My condition, kidney failure, requires close monitoring. Very close monitoring.

For all of my life I have been extremely healthy and so I haven’t had the front line experience of provincial health care. That has now changed.

After living in the States years ago, and having to pay for my own health care, I truly appreciate our social health system. Right now I have to take about $800 of medicine a month, and that’s if I don’t run into other peripheral complications. I have dialysis three times a week and soon, I will start dialysis at home. That means more medical supplies. There are referrals to Kelowna and other unexpected costs. Luckily for me, through the efforts of the Kidney Foundation of Canada and our health system, very little of those costs have come out of pocket. If they had, I can tell you I would be hard pressed to get the kind of expert and meticulous care I receive.

When I start home dialysis, a truck load (literally, a truck load) of supplies will be brought to my home and unloaded on a regular basis, all at no cost to me. If I want to holiday, even if it is in Timbuktu, all I have to do is make arrangements with the company that delivers my supplies and the supplies will be waiting for me when I arrive — without any cost.

It’s said that each dialysis patient costs the government about $50,000 a year for dialysis alone. Multiply that by the number of people on dialysis and one can begin to appreciate the cost of keeping people like me healthy and alive.

Our regional dialysis unit is something to behold in itself. I believe that one of the dialysis machines costs from $40,000 to $45,000. In our dialysis unit alone there are eight units. In our province alone there are kidney services for dialysis patients at 14 hospitals and 27 community dialysis centres. I have no clue how many dialysis machines are in each of the centres, but one can only begin to imagine the staggering cost of those machines alone.

On first glance when I first began dialysis, I could only imagine the strangling fear that many first-time dialysis patients face. I was lucky in that I used to be an LPN and so the renal unit is not new or frightening to me.

It boggles my mind, the specialized equipment in that one unit.

While I could likely break down the cost and thus the great value of the facilities and the equipment, I would be hard-pressed to put any economic value on the care given in that unit.

All of the staff, without exception, is highly trained, more than adequate and far beyond meticulous. Their very demeanor and composure is a reassuring balm to an already battered psyche.

What comes through loud and clear is that each and every one is there for the right reason. There is no doubt in my mind that each of them is an advocate for me and all the others on dialysis. There is no us and them. To them it is truly about us. No ulterior motives, no false smiles, and best of all, no pity. I couldn’t stand pity.

That’s not to say their hearts don’t hold compassion, for I knew their hearts are bursting with compassion. It’s just that they cloak us in the warmth of our own retained dignity. That is what keeps us warm during dialysis and not only the warmed blanket offered to each and every one of us without fail.

Now that I have truly but unintentionally tested our health care system there is much I can say about it. I could complain about the wait lists for things such as MRIs. I could complain about our miserly government which puts special interests above health care, education and the elderly and I could talk about the Castlegar vs. Trail fight for a regional hospital.

But I won’t.

There is a time for that, and for me that time is not now.

For now, it is a time to honour all of the caregivers in the trenches. Imagine fighting a war without all the proper ammunition. That is what these selfless angels do on a regular basis.

The next time I am tempted to complain about our health care system, I know I will think twice. I could be in the States and bankrupt from paying bills where healthcare is a business.

Our system is not perfect, but I will attest that those who work within the system are.

The ironic thing is I go to the dialysis unit because of my kidneys and they go because of their heart.

Thanks to all of you out there who care so diligently and kindly for people like me.

 

 

 

 

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