Too many contradictions within medical system

How can the same medical system be so inefficient when patients are suffering and yet run like clockwork once their treatment begins?

Editor, The Times:

Far too many would-be patients wait way too long, in pain and varying stages of disability, for treatments of different kinds. Too many who have waited and waited for medical care will know what I mean when I say that the care at the end is better than at the beginning.

Here’s my experience. Some seven or eight years ago, my hiking buddies noticed I was limping slightly.  It would become much more pronounced and painful before skilled medical professionals finally set me upright on two legs once more.

The definite need was diagnosed in January, 2010. Surgery only took place at the end of October, 2011.

“What does that tell you?” I asked the X-ray technician during an appointment in July, 2010.

“I’m glad it’s not my hip!” was the reply.

Relying heavily on a walking stick, I limped into a surgeon’s office in November, 2010. “Ready to throw in the towel?” he asked, as if I’d ever had any say in it. Then I discovered he would not be doing the surgery, so another surgeon had to be found.

“Waiting lists are up to 6 months for all of them,” he told my husband and me.

First this new person had to be located; then I had to wait for yet another appointment so he could do his own evaluation.

On St. Patrick’s Day, 2011, after much frustration with answering machines and contradictory information, I saw the doctor who would eventually perform the surgery. “I’ll put you on my short list,” he assured me, “but if you don’t hear anything, phone the office in August.”

August? My mobility lessened; pain increased; frustration grew with a system that turned this otherwise healthy person into a ‘crock’. It was September before I was told the date for my long-awaited surgery.

What a change once I was IN the system. The care at UBC Hospital was first rate – except that, unbelievably, I never did see the surgeon post-op. Nurses dosed me to keep the pain at bay after the operation and stood me upright within a few hours. Physiotherapists had me exercising right away; occupational therapists ensured I could use walking and dressing aids. Ward aides brought water for washing, and kitchen staff delivered ‘real food’. I even had a telephone beside my bed. After almost two years of neglect, I was showered with care and attention. I was on the spot when the head physio on our wing phoned Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital in Clearwater to ensure continued TLC.

Here appointments have followed along in an orderly fashion, and I have been treated with respect, courtesy, and in a most considerate and helpful fashion. I follow my instructions (perhaps a little too rigorously at times) and relish being able to stand evenly on two legs.

I applaud those whose skills have wrought such a change, and express amazement and gratitude for what they can do – and have done – for me. The difference in treatment before and after surgery begs the question: “How can the same medical system be so inefficient when prospective patients are suffering dreadfully and yet run like clockwork once their treatment begins?”

It’s just too bad that the efforts and organization of politicians and the numerous well-paid bureaucrats of our so-called health care system are not even close to being on a par with those who actually perform medical miracles.

Kay Knox

Clearwater, B.C.


cc: Interior Health and Minister of Health