Health ministry pleas a tough pill to swallow

Health ministry pleas a tough pill to swallow

By Matthew McCully

Local Journalism Initiative

ER overcrowding isn’t new. Flu season isn’t new. Labour shortages aren’t new. And unfortunately, neither are the solutions to address these problems.

I think English coughing fits will have to spread across the province for the health network to get the attention it deserves.

Imagine poor Roberge on the streets of Montreal, bearing witness to an RSV-induced hack attack rounded out by a my god! instead of a mon dieu!

“Dubé, we’ve gotta do something, the pure laines are chocking in English, we can’t hear this out on the streets, open more beds, get more vaccines.”

This record-breaking broken record of a health crisis is scary enough without being asked to avoid the emergency room.

It is, by design, the only point of service available to a massive chunk of Quebecers, many of whom haven’t had the privilege of regular checkups from a doctor to know exactly how much their heart or lungs could handle before their need is urgent.

Adding insult to injury, 811 operators will often err on the side of caution and recommend a trip to the ER even if the patient on the line isn’t at death’s door.

And the GAP, designed to accommodate patients without doctors, has a disclaimer that takes longer than the over-the-phone triage.

You have the right to a doctor, anything you say can and will be used to treat you in a medical facility. You have the right to an appointment, but we will only try phoning three times, so if you are working, in the car, changing a diaper, sleeping, or for any reason unable to answer, you go back to the bottom of the list.

All of that sounds less like healthcare and more like a punishment for having the nerve to get sick.

And how sick is sick enough to run the gamut?

Let’s wait until people are at their most vulnerable–with brain fog, repeated sleepless nights, unable to work, unable to eat, unable to get a sentence out without coughing, too weak to walk across the room without being winded—to say hey, chin up, take two health recommendations and call me in the morning, just don’t come to the ER.

Meanwhile, good Quebecers are suffering in silence, managing chronic pain, nursing ailments that will inevitably evolve into diseases, waiting for the system to get better.

Any decade now.

Who could look at a system this broken and think, what we need is someone in Quebec City with a more expensive suit; they will surely be able to fit a square peg into a round hole.

A government is too disconnected from its constituents when it deems it appropriate to ask them to second-guess their own well-being for the sake of a mismanaged health system.

A government has lost touch with its population when the language of the downtrodden matters more than their needs.

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