Human Exceptionalism

Canadian Healthcare Meltdown: Don’t Come to ER!

The ERs in London, Ontario are so strained, people with serious medical issues are being urged not to come. From the story:

Patients in the London area are being told to think twice about whether their problem really merits an ER visit. The London Health Science’s Centre emergency departments are “extraordinarily busy”, with both University and Victoria hospitals experiencing high patient loads. “Our first priority is the health and well-being of our patients and we will continue to maintain high quality patient care under these circumstances,” the LHSC said in a release. “It is also our priority that the most critically ill are seen in a timely manner.” People with non-life threatening emergencies are asked to go to their family doctor or walk-in clinic…

But here’s the thing, urgent care is also strained. From a related earlier story:

For the third time in as many months, St. Joseph’s Hospital is restricting hours at its London urgent care centre because of a lack of doctors. The hospital announced Friday it will continue temporary hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week, until at least May 31. “We don’t have a reliable source of qualified physicians that would allow us to extend the hours on a regular basis,” said Dr. Gillian Kernaghan, president of St. Joseph’s Health Care. Before reducing hours in January, the urgent care centre was open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Kernaghan said there is a general shortage of emergency room doctors across the country.

So, ERs in London are so strained, officials are telling people not to come.  But urgent care centers have had to cut their hours!  Not coincidentally, I am told, people can get their pets to the vets, and get diagnostic scans, no problem.  But of course, those are private systems.

Canada rations care by restricting access to required care.  There is an 18+ week wait for serious surgery and weeks, perhaps months, for necessary diagnostic scans–even for those suffering serious symptoms.  And now, London’s ER/Urgent care system is in meltdown.  This is what happens in single payer systems when money grows tight.

HT: Alex Schadenberg

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