“I wouldn’t like to see Americans make the same mistake Canadians have made… Patients in Canada are treated like Third World citizens. Our health-care system is like Cuba or North Korea.”
- Lindsay McCreith (Brain tumor patient, Canada)
Beverly Green, 45, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001. Initial tests indicated she would not benefit from hormonal drug treatment, but retesting at Mount Sinai Hospital in 2005 found that her initial test results were incorrect. Green testified at a public inquiry in March 2008.
“Angry patients testify at breast cancer test inquiry” CTV.ca News (March 19, 2008) http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNew...breast_cancer…
Branislav Djukic, an Ontario cab driver, faced a difficult choice: Wait more than 14 weeks for cancer surgery, or travel outside of Canada and purchase the lifesaving operation. Ultimately, Djukic returned to the country he fled in 1995, the former Yugoslavia. In Belgrade, he underwent surgery to remove a portion of his left kidney at a cost of $5,000.
“Long wait forces cancer patient to buy operation in land he fled; Patient’s choice: Wait 14 weeks or pay $5,000,” The Globe and Mail, By Lisa Priest (January 31, 2007) Home - The Globe and Mail
“Londoner Travels to Yugoslavia For Cancer Treatment,” A-Channel News A-Channel | NEWS | Londoner Travels to Yugoslavia For Cancer Treatment
David Malleau, a 44 year-old truck driver suffered a devastating car accident in 2004 that forced doctors at Hamilton General Hospital to remove a fist-sized piece of bone from his skull to relieve pressure on his brain. Once the swelling subsided and he was ready for surgery in March 2005, Malleau was sent home and placed on a waiting list. Three months passed. Then six. He waited at home, a prisoner unable to leave the house for fear something would hit the exposed side of his brain - for him a potentially fatal incident. In the end, it took nearly a year before he could get skull replacement surgery.
“You can’t fight the hospital; Man forced to wait a year for skull surgery had no official advocate,” The Toronto Star, By Tanya Talaga and Robert Cribb (May 22, 2007) Year-long wait for skull surgery - thestar.com
Diane Nesenbrink, was goofing around as a teen when her jaw locked open. That incident, 27 years ago, marked the beginning of the Stratford, Ontario, woman’s lifelong ordeal with jaw joint problems. Ms. Nesenbrink jaw joint needed to be surgically replaced. But patients who need a new hip or knee have been deemed a political priority and are guaranteed joint replacements within nine months – the “medically acceptable” wait for consultation is no more than three months and the subsequent wait for surgery no more than six months. Ms. Nesenbrink’s doctor, Dr. Baker said, “The jaw joint is an important joint as well, but we’ve been forgotten.” In fact, his patients wait an average of more than two years for surgery. Even critical cases – where patients suffer excruciating pain and are unable to move their mouths – wait at least three months. “We see patients who are in dire straits: Talking, eating, chewing, smiling are all difficult, if not impossible,” Dr. Baker said.
“A jaw-dropping wait time for surgery; While people who need new hips or knees get action within nine months, jaw joint patients can wait more than two years,” The Globe and Mail, By Andre Picard, (May 22, 2007) Jaw-dropping waiting time for surgery - The Globe and Mail
Jeff Clarke, 34, was in a chronic state of pain for three years. The Kitchener man could stand for only 10 minutes at a time, sit for about 20 and then lie down again. The back pain, diagnosed as degenerative disc disease, travelled through his legs and often he buckled over as he tried to stand. He used two canes and a walker to get around. Then one night last November as he was watching TV, he saw a commercial about a Canadian company offering surgery in India. Clarke called the Vancouver-based business and within two days was sending his folder of medical information to the surgeon in Chennai, India. “All of a sudden there was hope, valid hope I could grasp,” he said. On Jan. 28, Clark had two titanium rods placed in his lower back, two reconstructed discs made of high-density plastic inserted, as well as screws to hold the discs together, all thanks to an Indian doctor.
“Kitchener man walks again after back surgery in India; ‘Still in a state of shock,’” The Kitchener-Waterloo Record, By Liz Monteiro (April 19, 2007) (Subscription Required)
Jordan Johanson, 18, died at Rockyview Hospital in late March. He died following a 12-hour wait for surgery on his appendix. Darcy Johanson, the boy’s father, said “Young kids shouldn’t be dying like this. If something can be done to fix it, they should get on with it.”
“Families upset city health-care inquiry delayed; Five appendicitis deaths in 10 years at city hospitals,” The Calgary Herald, By Sean Myers (May 2, 2007) (Subscription Required)
“Teen dies after appendix ruptures,” The Edmonton Sun, By Bill Kaufman (April 19, 2007) http://www.edmontonsun.com/News/Albe...9/4078502.html
Lindsay McCreith, 66, was told he had a brain tumor but that he would have to wait four and a half months to obtain an MRI to rule out the possibility that it was cancerous. Unwilling to risk the progression of what might be cancer, Mr. McCreith obtained an MRI in Buffalo, which revealed the tumor was malignant. Even with this diagnosis in hand, the Ontario system still refused to provide timely treatment, so Mr. McCreith had surgery in Buffalo to remove the cancerous brain tumor in March, 2006. In Ontario, Mr. McCreith would have waited eight months for surgery, according to his family doctor. Eight months is enough time for a cancer to worsen, spread and progress to an irreversible stage. Had Mr. McCreith not paid $26,600 for immediate care, he might be dead today.
“Ontario man featured in U.S. health-care debate,” The Toronto Star, By Tim Harper (February 22, 2008) http://www.thestar.com/Article/305918
“Taking Ontario’s health monopoly to court,” The National Post, By John Carpay (May 3, 2007) Taking Ontario's health monopoly to court
“Patients suing province over wait times,” The Toronto Star, By Tanya Talaga (September 6, 2007) Patients suing province over wait times - thestar.com
Manon Lemoignan, 46, a cancer patient and the mother of two girls, was denied access to a life-prolonging drug. Lemoignan’s oncologist at the Royal Victoria Hospital recommended the best therapy available, Avastin. The drug, however, had not yet been approved for use in Canada.
“Cancer drug has OK - it just isn’t available,” The Montreal Gazette, By Charlie Fidelman (March 27, 2006) canada.com - Canadian news, entertainment, television, newspapers, free email and more
Rally Levy, a breast cancer patient in Montreal, was denied eligibility for the drug Herceptin. Where she lives, the drug is only available to women with advanced breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. “If I started my chemo a month ago, I would have been on the trial group that was eligible,” said Rally Levy. “They have realized it is a good pill. Why can’t I get it?”
“Speed up cancer drug availability, critics urge,” CBC News (June 21, 2005) CBC News - Health - Speed up cancer drug availability, critics urge
Sheila Nunn, a Kitchener woman suffering seizures, was told by her doctor that she urgently needed an MRI scan. She was also told she would have to wait three months to have it done locally. Nunn, who had been suffering blackouts, memory loss, confusion and seizures for two months, decided to take action: She paid $1,100 to have the MRI scan done in Michigan.
“Seizure patients face long MRI waits, group says,” The Kitchener-Waterloo Record, By Anne Kelly (June 15, 2007) (Subscription Required)
“Wait for MRI tests too long in region,” The Kitchener-Waterloo Record (June 9, 2007) (Subscription Required)
“‘Totally Unacceptable,’” The Kitchener-Waterloo Record, By Anne Kelly (June 7, 2007) (Subscription Required)
Sheryl Smolkin had been undergoing several months of assorted treatments for pain in her right knee, but the pain was still putting a crimp in her quality of life. So, she decided to go to Buffalo, New York in late December for an MRI. She had an appointment at 1:30 a.m. on Feb. 21 at a Toronto hospital, but simply didn’t want to put it off any longer. With the assistance of Richard Baker at Vancouver-based Timely Medical Alternatives, she arranged to have the procedure done at a convenient time five days later for $465 (CDN). The only waiting she had to do was the two hours in traffic it took to cross the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge into the United States. Based on the MRI, her knee problem has been diagnosed, but that’s only the first step. A February appointment with a specialist will determine if she’ll need to go on another wait list for surgery.
“Shuffling off to Buffalo for an MRI,” Employee Benefit News Canada, By Sheryl Smolkin (February 1, 2007) (Subscription Required)
Vince Motta, 23, died of a severe asthma attack after he was airlifted to Rockyview Hospital following appendix surgery at High River hospital. Motta and his mother had waited at both Rockyview and Foothills Hospital, but eventually left due to the long waits.
“Deaths deserve a public inquiry,” The Calgary Herald, Editorial By Maureen L. Prowse (June 17, 2007) (Subscription Required)
“CHR review clears hospital in death of Calgary teenager; Parents of boy ‘disappointed’ with finding,” The Calgary Herald, (June 13, 2007) (Subscription Required)
“Families upset city health care inquiry delayed; Five appendicitis deaths in 10 years at city hospitals,” The Calgary Herald, By Sean Myers, (May 2, 2007) (Subscription Required)
Virginia Yule, 49, met her surgeon only twice, for a total of 45 minutes, to learn she needed a biopsy after a mammogram found a shadow on her breast, and then to be told she had cancer. So she wrote her doctor a letter. “I really wanted her to know who I was,” she says now, cancer-free for seven years. Ms. Yule’s desire to be seen as a person is a common complaint among cancer patients caught in a system that seems overwhelmed by waiting lists and swamped by test results, where phone calls tunnel through to voice mail and a busy doctor may have mere minutes to explain the most complicated, heart-stopping medical information.
“I made noise, and things moved,” The Globe and Mail, By Erin Anderssen (December 9, 2006) 'I made noise, and things moved' - The Globe and Mail
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