Friday, February 08, 2008

Wait For It

Ed promises more doctors and the Harpocrites promise reduced wait times. Yet in Alberta hospital beds are closed and basic surgery wait times are increasing. That is the Conservative legacy. Including the legacy of building hospitals during the Lougheed/Getty era to garner votes and then blowing them up, closing beds and cutting staff during the Klein years. Chickens, home, roost.

And inquiring minds want to know what happened to that Liberal Federal funding Paul Martin gave the provinces to reduce wait times? Why it went into building new facilities named after old Tories like Don Mazankowski who called for more private health care.

The Tories legacy after 37 years is to build infrastructure to win votes, with no plan on how to staff that infrastructure once it is built. A sop to the construction industry in Alberta.

It's ridiculous for Premier Ed Stelmach to promise Albertans an extra 225 doctors a year when current surgeons are being sent home because operations are cancelled, two Edmonton doctors say.

"It's exceedingly frustrating that we can't do our jobs and it's getting worse, not better," said Dr. Clifford Sample, a gastrointestinal surgeon at the Grey Nuns Hospital.

Sample was sent home Wednesday after his two major surgeries were cancelled because of shortages in beds and nursing. Across the region, about two dozen elective surgeries were cancelled.

At peak times this winter, the problem has been even worse, with up to 40 operations cancelled over two days.

"We get announcements from Mr. Stelmach that he's going to bring on all these extra physicians and I ask him: Where are they going to work?" asked Sample, who is president of general surgery for the Alberta Medical Association.

"What are they going to do when the physicians in the system now can't do their jobs due to lack of resources?"

One of Sample's cancellations was a woman who has waited three months to have her stomach moved from her chest back into her abdomen. She can't eat without pain or bend over without losing her breath, he said.

A second woman has waited three months to have a paraesophageal hernia fixed, but will now have to wait at least two more. Sample said the operation ideally occurs within two months, since there's a risk of the stomach becoming twisted in the chest of patients with this hernia. That carries a 50-50 chance of death.

"If that happens between now and the time I can do her surgery, I'll feel pretty awful," Sample said. "I haven't seen any bad outcomes (from surgery cancellations). It will happen eventually."

Sample said the province and Capital Health need to focus less on building acute-care hospitals, such as those set for Sherwood Park and Fort Saskatchewan, and more on immediate creation of long-term care beds.

In Edmonton-area hospitals, 150 to 200 patients a day occupy emergency or acute-care beds while they wait for long-term care spaces. Coupled with a severe nursing shortage, that has kept hospitals from performing more surgeries.

Alberta Health's promise of $300 million in the next budget to open 600 new long-term care beds in the province falls short since the facilities won't open until at least 2010, Sample said.

"These are mythical, long-term care beds in the budget," he said. "I don't believe anything until it's actually built."

He said that until new, long-term care facilities open, beds should be converted in the soon-to-open Mazankowski Heart Institute, the joint-replacement centre across from the Royal Alexandra Hospital and the Lois Hole Hospital for Women.


SEE:


Ed's Ides of March


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4 comments:

Andy said...

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Andy said...

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Andy said...

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Andy said...

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