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Don't roll the dice with health care

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I was recently blessed to have been in the superbly and compassionate care of  Kelowna General Hospital staff and an attending surgeon while undergoing three upper endoscopy, esophageal widening operations. What professionalism.
Awakening out of sorts one morning, I  decided to bus it to KGH emergency a week ahead of my scheduled operation. Not the minutest detail was missed or overlooked by anyone.
The drastic shortage of beds at KGH is commonly regretted even among staff in chatting.
Amid the reality of long wait-lists, that's crystal clear from my hallway and other KGH experiences. Is this a Canada-wide norm? Probably.
God only knows how that condition would be officially listed - critical, seriously ill, in need of life support, satisfactory, recovering?
It reminded me of a letter I wrote in 2012, headlined: "Dear prime minister: please fix health care." In it, I pleaded that Stephen Harper make health care the top federal priority.
A roundup of headlines echoed words of  today's virtually to the word, pointing out that they strongly reinforced a letter I and other Canadians had received several months earlier from Dr. Robert Woollard, co-founder of Toronto-based Canadian Doctors for Medicare, a not-for-profit organization. It urged joining CDM's fight by signing a petition to protect Medicare, which I did. The petition was addressed to the prime minister.
Headlines on stories, editorials and letters then were frighteningly the same as today's: Back to court: Medicare needs a shake-up; Chronically-ill seniors tying up hospital beds; Registered and practical nurses in demand; Health care on life support?; Ottawa passes the buck on health care; Canadian system provides poor value.
Today's headline show little difference: Death by a thousand Tory cuts; Stop Stephen Harper's destruction of our social safety net; Stephen Harper's hands-off stance could signal end of national health-care system; "Harper washes hhands of health care.
As the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. But, let's not roll the dice with our national health care. Listen up, Mr. Harper.
Show and demonstrate your dedication to national health care, emulating the care of the KGH nurses and medical staff.  Lead us to a truly compassionate Canada.
Almost any review of letter-to-editor writers, newspaper editorials and news stories shows compassion and national health-care are alien to Harper's governmental agenda.
As Dr. Jeffrey Turnbull, then president of the Canadian Medical Association, declared publicly in December, 2011: "We have seen a slow and steady decline in what we all now agree is a deeply troubled health-care system. To be clear, this pillar of Canadian society is eroding."
Furthermore, "because our leaders refuse to lead, our health-care system suffers from jurisdictional paralysis, a highly fragmented vision, dysfunctional organizational and management structures, policies, and perverse incentives. We need to break the cycle of jurisdictional conflict and corral the country around some guiding values and actions that make sense."
'Nuff said.
So, lace up your boots and corral our beloved Canada on health care, while keeping your ears, mind and, most importantly, your heart open and attuned to everyday medical professionals like the KGH nurses, our doctors and your brother and sister Canadians.
Wally Dennison,

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