Niagara Deserves Better Than ‘Second Class’ Health Care Services

“Ontario has the fewest per capita beds of any province yet it is considered the financial engine of the country. That makes no sense.”

A Commentary by Linda McKellar, a Fort Erie/Niagara resident and retired nurse

Posted October 5th, 2018 on Niagara At Large

Three summers ago, my niece’s son had a horrible head injury from a skate boarding accident.

The closest place in Canada that could treat him in “the golden hour” (the critical time for trauma victims to save brain tissue and even life) would have been Hamilton. Nothing in the Niagara Peninsula was comparable.

Going on a decade ago now, residents in the Fort Erie area rallied over and over again to save that community’s hospital from having its services slashed, but the then Liberal government of Ontario and its regional agent, the Niagara Health System, proceeded with the slashing anyway. Linda McKellar, the author of this commentary, was among those rallying to save this hospital. File photo by Doug Draper

He was rushed to Buffalo, had CT’s to monitor cerebral bleeding and swelling, was intubated and placed on life support (a ventilator) within an hour so he could be “put out”, allowing his brain to rest. We were preparing for a possible funeral.

He is now at Queen’s studying engineering. If he remained in Canada he would likely be dead or at least brain damaged.

The Niagara Peninsula, with its population in the hundreds of thousands, is treated as second class. Heaven forbid you have a devastating injury here.

Do we in the peninsula, or many other areas in the province where hospitals are being closed down, deserve life and good health less than those in the big city?

Apparently so, since provincial governments keep cutting and cutting. As has been mentioned, Ontario has the fewest per capita beds of any province yet it is considered the financial engine of the country. That makes no sense.

Add to this the exodus of so many into non urban areas for retirement, that demographic usually needing more health services, or to find affordable housing (that is in comparison to Toronto). This is not a blanket criticism of our system which I would never trade for a private, for profit system, but why is this happening?

We spend far less per capita than the US where tens of millions are uninsured. Yet we have a longer life expectancy, lower infant and maternal mortality rate and comparable surgical results so we are doing something right. 42% of bankruptcies in the US are due to medical expenses. Is that what we wish to emulate?

Luck (and Buffalo Women’s and Children’s Hospital) was with us. Our lack of services would have cost what I know will be a productive, valuable life. We deserve better and it CAN be done.

Linda McKellar is a Niagara, Ontario resident and retired nurse who remains a strong advocate for quality, universal health care. She is also an avid follower of public affairs who frequently shares here views on Niagara At Large.

The commentary above was originally shared with Niagara At Large as a response to the following story, posted on NAL this October 4th

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 “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders


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