Wednesday 4 September 2013

I’m Not Sure Thinking Is Important

I went to have some tests done at the lab today which will give the doctor all of the answers she needs to give me a clean bill of health for another year. Well, that is my hope of course, but even if the tests show some abnormality that will be good because I can then deal with it.
When we first moved to Calgary, rather than find a family physician, we opted to become family practice patients at a walk in clinic. I don’t remember walk in clinics in Toronto back then, but I was pretty healthy and had almost no use for a doctor. The walk in clinic was a five minute drive away and the main doctor that I saw was about my age and very competent. The clinic had an x-ray machine, a way to develop the x-rays, lots of nurses to take care of my family and an on site lab where they would take your blood and do the tests right in the office. I never had to wait more than thirty minutes.

There was a point in the past thirty years when it was decided that the office didn’t need to have its own x-ray machine, patients could go to the emergency room at the hospital if they suspected something was broken. I have a feeling that this was done for insurance purposes as opposed to what was best for the patient. The same thing happened to the in-house lab technician. The provincial health board consolidated lab services under an umbrella corporation which would be able to standardize service. In other words, everyone would get equally bad service and some corporation would get very rich. I imagine that some politicians would benefit as well.
I suppose that it all boils down to just how much money everyone makes. My walk-in clinic makes more money because they don’t have the expense of running an x-ray machine and the space that it took up could be turned into another examination room, which translates into more income. The lab tech doesn’t have to be paid and her room would now be available for yet another examination room. The hospital gets to bring in more patients, thus justifying a larger budget. The Laboratory Services Corporation of course makes a huge income, paying the techs low wages and being the only game in town, no one can really complain.

When these Laboratory Service places opened up, you would get a requisition from the doctor for blood work and just drop in for the tests. Now, you need to book an appointment on line a week in advance. You can still drop in of course, but the woman I was sitting beside today had been waiting there for an hour and a half. Yes, she did get called in, but an hour and a half is a long time when you are hungry and have a very full bladder that you will need full for the specimen a little later.

Times do change, and for the most part things do improve. I guess these changes were needed due to a larger populations need for medical services. I would like to think that some very bright people have come up with this system and it is the best that we can expect. I know it is simplistic to say that if there is a four hour wait to see a doctor, then you need more doctors. If you have to wait a week for a blood test, then you need more technicians. If there is a six month wait for an MRI, you need more MRI’s, more people to run them and a Health Service that provides service so that we can stay healthy.

That’s what I think, but at the end of the day, I’m not sure thinking is important.

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