The Good, the Bad, and the A.H.S.

A few years ago I experienced a malady that I had before, and one that inflicts many in one of my lines of work: an ingrown toenail.  Certainly nothing major, but rather uncomfortable if not treated.
After attempting several imaginative home solutions without success, I gave in and visited a local walk-in clinic (no way was I going to endure countless hours in an emergency ward for something so trivial).
The doctor examined the toe and we both came to the conclusion that, since it’s already grown way beyond the point of a simple ‘wedge-cut’ plus the fact it was no longer painful, the nail would not have to be removed.  Done.
A couple of hours later, I received a phone call from the clinic’s receptionist informing me that I had been booked in for surgery on my toe in a few days time.  Confused, I asked if she was sure given the outcome of my visit.  With a mixture of attitude and self-righteousness, she told me was following the doctor’s orders verbatim.
Alright, so the nail comes out, I thought.  Takes care of any future issues.
The information stated I was to refrain from eating or drinking anything after a certain time the night before the procedure.  Odd – are they planning on putting me out to remove a toenail?  Still, with the clinic now closed I followed direction.  They must know what they’re doing.
I arrived at the Fort Saskatchewan hospital (the old one) and checked in.  Obviously they were expecting me as they had my file ready to go.  I was led to a waiting area (hallway), had an I.V. inserted into my arm and was told to wait.  And wait I did.  A couple of hours passed and the I.V. bottle was changed.  Still I waited, killing time waiting to again confirm that I’d have to be knocked out for a toenail removal.
Then, as I was chatting up the guy next to me, a side door opened and appeared the doctor from the clinic.  He caught my eye and walked over, greeting me with a smile and a question: “Mr. Sullivan, what are you doing here?”
“I though I was having my toenail removed,” I answered with growing confusion.
“I thought we’d decided against that,” he replied, equally confused.
I started to explain the phone call from his receptionist when the dude next to me, overhearing this, stood up with a ‘to hell with this.  I’m outta here’.  Focus was now on the action next to me as a nurse tried to calm the guy down.
“This guy comes in for a toenail and the doctor has no idea about it?  What were they going to do to him?  Give him a set of 44DDs?  Fuck this.”  And out he went.
A humorous if a not potentially dangerous situation dealing with Alberta Health Services.
Not so comical is when our health care system fails those with serious medical concerns.
My mother is waiting for surgery.  Without breeching confidentiality, I will say that it concerns internal organs and, like most medical issues, the longer it goes unattended the worse the situation will become.
So far, her vital procedure has been rescheduled twice which has resulted in an over four-month delay from the original date.  Defenders of our sacred cow health care system will be quick to point to staffing, equipment, space, and funding issues.
Canada’s system is a failure, of that there is ample evidence.  But while those on either side continue the endless debate surrounding our health care system, Canadians such as my mother are forced to wait for medical treatment.
Let’s not kid ourselves: my parents are now both in their 70’s.  My mom has already had one stroke.  The longer the government waits before having to spend money performing a surgery on a patient my mother’s age, the greater chance the patient will not be around by the time the surgery is a go.
Keeping the wait times long is a fantastic cost-cutting measure if you don’t mind the dead bodies.
Have a funny/frustrating/malpractice-worthy AHS story?  Let me know: leighps@shaw.ca

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