Sunday, May 19, 2024
Healing Health Care in the Pontiac

You and I and 84 kms later, where is the care?

When we last talked, I mentioned that our health services are in dire straits. How does this affect you and me when we’re in need of services? Here is the experience of one person in need of one-time care:
The pain is located in the calf area. On a scale of one to 10, it hovers around eight to nine. If weight is put on the leg, it goes up to 12.
Not wanting to use the ER for no reason, our ‘good’ patient goes through the suggested path before heading that way. First, a call to the family physician for an appointment. No room in the schedule for a semi-urgent problem. Second, check the local clinic, also a filled schedule. So, third option is heading to the hospital Emergency Room.
It is quite full, even at 8 a.m. on a Friday. After a seven hour wait, finally seen by the physician. He is somewhat unsure of the cause. Blood clot, bone problem, muscle issue? He orders further tests, x-rays and doppler. X-rays are done in a few minutes, but there is no radiologist on site so the patient will need to go the city. Again, the schedule is full, no appointments are available, the patient is sent home to await the call to get in for the exam in the city.
Back home, worried that the semi-serious problem will become serious, in pain and anxiously awaiting the call. Next morning, finally, the call. It’s from the secretary of the one and only radiologist on duty for the whole Outaouais that weekend. ‘’What time can you get here?’’ an impatient voice asks on the other end. “Well, I will have to get a family member to drive me to the Gatineau Hospital, so around 11 a.m., if all goes well, but 11:30 for sure.’’ “Oh, that is almost lunch time for the staff, so come at 1 p.m.’’
Once there, the exam is done by the technician but the radiologist must also go over it and re-does the same exam, with apologies about the phone calls. He finally says that things are okay it is not a clot but that the full diagnosis and treatment will be given by the doctor back at the ER, the Shawville ER.
Amazing, an 84 km-long trip to an ER room, and the need to go back 84 kms to get word and treatment. If only the pain were not so intense. So, a few more hours waiting to see another doctor at 6 p.m. Finally home, after all that time, with some pain medications.
You and I can attest to these facts. How many of us have travelled to the city for services we used to get locally? A cast, a scan, a quick referral to a specialist. Sadly, it is obvious now that the care has gone out of our health care services. We are left to our own devices to navigate the complex maze of what are now called service providers.
Do you have a GPS?

Josey Bouchard is a teacher, municipal councillor, volunteer on the Board of Directors of the Pontiac Agriculture Society and spokesperson for Pontiac Voice, a health services advocacy group in the Pontiac.


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