How Many of BC’s 800 “Heat” Deaths Were Victims of a Failing in BC’s Health System … Not Just a Lack of Ambulances?

The tragedy of more than 800 BC residents dying in a one-week period … many while waiting for ambulances that were delayed for hours or never arrived … was well-covered in the news.

And so were all the perceived reasons: the severe heat; normal aging/health causes; and … the BIG one … the lack of ambulance/paramedics when they were critically needed.

However, a story in the news this past week reveals there may be another major overlooked factor killing British Columbians before their time … that this Blog predicted 10 months ago, but the media ignored/missed.

It has been more than 15 months since many BC physicians … including specialists … stopped seeing patients “in person” due to fears over Covid.

As a result, how many seniors, chronically ill adults haven’t had their blood pressure checked by a doctor for a year and a half? Or checked at all? How many kids, adults, elderly have not had a doctor look into their throats, their eyes, at their skin or use a stethoscope … and perhaps notice something serious even before the patients became really aware of it themselves?

In-person diagnosis by doctors used to be the norm … and it’s time to get back to that.

Doctors’ phone-in consults or virtual visits, even when backed by lab tests, are just not EQUAL substitutes for in-person examinations.

Yet, even with BC’s Covid new cases now down to only 50 a day or so across the entire province, thousands of doctors are still “dialing it in”.

I get it: remote examinations certainly are the safest way to go; they are also more convenient; and, doctors may even be able to squeeze in more “visit$” each day.

But that is NOT First Rate health care!

And Wednesday, a story on the on-going ambulance crisis made me wonder: could Covid doctor-visit restrictions/eliminations … not just ambulance shortages … also be leading to more patient deaths?

That was the day Health Minister Adrian Dix announced a major plan to address/overhaul/increase and improve BC’s ambulance services. Bravo!

In an accompanying analysis, Global’s Keith Baldrey pointed out total daily Ambulance calls were UP 20 per cent during first six months of 2021 … compared to before the “heat” crisis.

Overdose calls were UP 28% … the biggest increase; BUT heart problem calls were UP 24%; abdominal pain calls rose 14%; and, and another 11% were UP for chest pains: a total increase of 49% in ambulance calls for those three last categories ! That’s HUGE!

Not Covid. Not heat. It’s science … and the statistics don’t lie.

Clearly, people with heart/chest/abdominal problems in BC were NOT … and ARE not … getting the attention they need BEFORE health problems turn into crises, requiring an ambulance, hospitalization and critical care.

In fact, the total INCREASE in ambulance calls over the six months was 7,728. (Let me emphasize: that figure … 7,728 … is not the total, but just the INCREASE! Something is indeed awry.)

Which raises the question … or should … to Health Minister Adrian Dix or Public Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry: how many of those could have been avoided … or mitigated without ever needing an ambulance … if BC doctors were doing what BC doctors used to do: seeing their patients in person?

I actually wrote a Blog in Sept. 2020 warning about the danger of doctors dialing it in: http://harveyoberfeld.ca/blog/the-declining-health-standard-bc-government-health-officials-and-media-are-ignoring/.

Looking at the large increases in ambulance calls and death numbers, that Blog was prescient!

How many of the 800 people who died June 25 to July 1 in BC … FOUR TIMES the normal weekly rate … could still be alive had they been seen, examined and diagnosed by their physicians in person before their health issues turned into crisis ???

It’s time for the BC government and the BC College of Physicians to get ALL BC doctors back to seeing their patients in their offices … taking Covid precautions, just like dentists, optometrists, ophthalmologists and so many others have done for months now.

And save lives.

Harv Oberfeld

(Reminder: You can get FREE First Alerts to all new postings on this Blog by following @harveyoberfeld on Twitter. No spam … just Free alerts to new postings.)

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28 Responses to How Many of BC’s 800 “Heat” Deaths Were Victims of a Failing in BC’s Health System … Not Just a Lack of Ambulances?

  1. nonconfidencevote says:

    Fentanyl overdose are the reason and no one…..no one wants to be the person that says.
    “It’s time to stop using ALL our resources to pander to drug addicts that over dose time and time and time again.

    There are law abiding taxpayers out there that are dying because criminals have clogged the system

    On July 15th Bonnie Henry stated
    There are 60,000 drug addicts in BC.
    Only 6,000 use the safe injection sites.
    There were 17,000 Over Dose 911 calls in BC in 2020
    1,700 died.
    One assumes the other 15,300 received medical treatment.
    42 ambulances every day dealing with drug overdoses.
    Ambulance paramedics have reached the wall and are either off on stress leave, or have quit.
    No one can blame them.
    Dix has promised another 80 ambulances for BC.
    I dare to suggest that that wont make a bit of difference.

    Time to think outside the box.

    Time to relegate Over Dose calls to the back of the line on busy nights?

  2. e.a.f. says:

    Non Confidence, your suggestion about busy nights and the end of the line for drug over doses, yikes! I hear what you’re saying, but where does it end. Oh, that was a smoker and hence the heart attack, put them second from the end of the line. Drunk driver in a car accident, third from the end of the line and when they get to the hospital, they’ll have to wait before non drunk drivers are treated. We don’t get to make those calls in a civilized society. People maybe drug addicts, but they are still human beings.

    On Saturday evening a group of neighbours got together. Were discussing the “drug/flop” house in the area and how fast it all happened. One of the neighbours pointed out they had an acquaintance who had a job, vehicle, apartment, etc. Saw them a month ago, in an alley, pushing a grocery cart with his worldly positions and didn’t recognize our neighbour. That drug addict is some one’s family member. We don’t get to decide who lives or dies.

    The drug crisis started years ago and the B.C. Lieberals didn’t do anything. Christy wouldn’t even ban pill presses while Notley in Alberta did. As a matter of fact there seems to be a lot more big drug busts in other parts of Canada than we see here. Wonder why the RCMP can’t get their act together here in B.C. Fent. comes into our country and we know how it comes in. Does any one do anything about it? Not so much, in my opinion. Do we ever see crack downs on dealers, suppliers, etc. The last time the RCMP had a big case they literally screwed it up. Remember the Surrey 6 trial. Yes, one of those RCMP officers was screwing some one involved in the case. With cops like that we’ll never get rid of the criminals in all of this. The drug trade is controlled by a few in this province and they go along their merry way. The rest, the gangs are simply franchisees fighting for market share.

    Vancouver became world famous for our drugs and money laundering and it all kept happening. So many people were making money in the real estate business, high end goods, cars, etc. Now its up to the NDP to deal with it. However, its so entrenched in this province, it is doubtful anything will change.

    Yes, the government is going to hire more paramedics, but in a few years they will also have burnt out dealing with over doses. We can either decide to make drugs free or we can throw every drug addict in jail and try to clean them up. All solutions will cost a lot of money and people aren’t going to like that either. A lot of solutions will also be a violation of Human Rights Acts.

  3. D. M. Johnston says:

    Here we go again, Photo-op the second, Premier Horgan does nothing and the province burns. It seems his entire politcal strategy was to win an election outright and that’s it, sit back and do photo-ops, till the next election.

    Hell of an election strategy, if you can get away with it.

    The problem with being premier, you have to make decisions, unpleasant ones and telling doctors to go back seeing patients in person, should be number 1 on his list. of course there is no photo-op value in that.

    800 deaths due to a heatwave, 20 years ago would have demanded regime change by the rank and file members of the NDP, but no, not now, “it’s OK, it’s really the Liberals fault.”

    On the hottest days in history in this province, Horgan did nothing; Lytton burned, Horgan did nothing; people dying of the heat; Horgan did nothing; the drug overdose fiasco; Horgan has done nothing.

    My NDP friends, they tell me, Horgan is just the front man and the real power behind the throne is Geoff Meggs and X-Visionista Meggs only cares about SkyTrain expansion so his land developer.speculator friends can make money!

    The elderly die, to bad so sad, is the message we are getting from Horgan’s mob; an epidemic of drug overdoses, too bad so sad is the what we get from the NDP.

    Horgan’s good will is fast evaporating, so another multi-billion dollar mega project is called for as it makes for good photo-ops and pleases the media’s corporate friends.

    As the province blunders ahead, bouncing from one crisis to another, the public are going to start demanding action or go. Government by photo-op, is very poor government indeed.

    (Response: I don’t place responsibility for this one on Horgan: it’s really the Health Minister Adrian Dix, Dr Bonnie Henry and the College of Physicians who should exercise influence behind the scenes or even issue Orders requiring physicians to actually SEE patients if they want to get paid. That would solve the problem …and I suspect save lives too. Wouldn’t it be interesting if some intrepid member of the “working” media … instead of waiting for a press release … asked Dr Henry about HER interpretation of the much higher numbers and whether she believes lack of in-person visits has impacted health care results in BC! h.o)

  4. e.a.f. says:

    good topic Harvey. It really is about time doctors started seeing patients again. Dentists are. All during this COVID “season” doctors sat in their offices and “saw” patients via telephone. if you wanted to see a doctor you went to the E.R. That isn’t what E.R.s are for. I couldn’t figure out why G.P.s and specialists got to avoid doing their jobs and still got full salary. Dentists saw people and they were really up close and personal Of course dentists don’t get paid if they don’t work. Same goes for others in the medical field. Nurses saw patients in hospitals as did doctors who work only in hospitals so what was so special about G.P.s and specialists that they didn’t need to see patients and still get paid for phone calls.

    Heart patients went to hospitals for tests which were conducted by “techies” who operate the equipment, but the cardiologists didn’t see you. My question is why are G.P.s and specialists so special they don’t have to be exposed to patients but every one else in health care does.

    Some of those people who didn’t see a blood pressure cuff or stethescope were people with serious conditions. One of the siblings is one.

    My eyes were bothering me for months, but the G.P. wasn’t seeing anyone. The interesting thing was the opthomologist was, but my appointment wasn’t for another 5 months, so that office suggested an optomitrist. They diagnosed the problem after an eye exam. It wasn’t anything serious, but it had scared the shit out of me because it hurt and if you loose your sight, for me I might as well be dead. Now this is also where economics comes in. The optomitrist appointment costs money, which I happily paid, but what about the person who couldn’t afford it?

    Yes, I’m right with you Its time the doctors, all of them, opened their offices again and started seeing people. You can’t tell via the phone what a person’s eyes look like, if their eyes are turning yellow, if they’re turning red, if their skin is peeling off or what those bumps on their skin are. They can’t listen to your lungs to check if something is wrong and lots of lung diseases are not noticed by people until its too late.

    There is lots of work which can be conducted via the phone but nothing beats an in person medical appointment. If doctors don’t want to see people then they ought not to be paid either. They had the best of both worlds, got paid but never had to see a person, so they were safe in their cocoon while all the rest of the medical community took the risks.

    (Response: Health Minister Adrian Dix should PERSONALLY read your Comment … and I’d be happy to give him an opportunity on here to reply, not just to you, but everyone else who is really worried about what it takes, when they are feeling ill, to actually SEE their doctor here these days under the NDP government ..without going to Emergency!

  5. HARRY LAWSON says:

    Harvey

    You said it all nothing to really add until nonconfidencevote poster .

    Many may not be aware that all most all frontline services to homeless , mentally ill and addicted either CLOSED or significantly restricted and reduced..

    Recovery beds sat empty wait times for detox extended if you were lucky to get in little staff contact .

    Like you nonconfedencevote I am frustrated however for obviously different reasons.

    I am frustrated that it takes more than 2 months to get a bed in a rehab then you can’t guarantee the quality of care . I am frustrated that the not meals and one to one counciling were closed or reduced .

    That is some of the reasons for higher overdose calls

  6. Marge says:

    I guess that I am one of the lucky ones as I have a very good doctor who actually has been seeing patients in person during all of this.

    My previous doctor was something else though. She never took appointments (why this wasn’t reported to the group that oversees doctors I don’t know!). You would line up at her clinic around four in the morning in the pouring rain or freezing cold in the hopes that you were close enough in line to see her and of course you wouldn’t be in the best of health obviously if you were crazy enough to do the wait. Then her clinic would open at seven to take names. You then “slept” in her waiting room and hopefully saw her before noon, as that was the end of her “shift”. My husband wouldn’t put up with this strange policy and found another doctor. Fortunately, she agreed to take me on too as a patient.

    I also see a specialist for treatment of nerve pain in my face. His clinic has been operating for most of the COVID time. So, I was grateful for that. He also works in the hospitals so was always fully gowned and masked as was his staff. I don’t believe that he’s had a haircut in all of this time, so he is a little scruffy looking but no one minds that a bit.

    My new family doctor has been a gem too during all of this. I have had two telephone sessions with her and two visits with her in person. One time I had a medical issue, called her office and I was told by her staff to have my husband take me to emergency for my ailment. I signed in at the emergency and was waiting to be seen, when my husband got called by the doctor. She told him she didn’t want me waiting for hours to be seen and I could come to her clinic that afternoon and she’d look at me. Of course, she too is fully gowned and masked each and every time my husband and I have been in personally to see her. I know that if I had stayed with the original doctor, I would never have been seen in person ever so I am very grateful that I have a caring doctor looking after us. If she can be “open” for business why can’t other doctors be as well? I also have eye problems. I saw my retina specialist last year during COVID and will see her again during September. So, I kind of think it’s the luck of the draw as to who is willing to work for their patients and who is not. I got lucky and I am so grateful that I did.

    As for the drug situation, I am very torn. On the one hand, I see all their problems. Having had a brother who died of alcoholism, I am very aware of the toll addiction plays in families. I don’t know what the answer is but I am almost sure that it is not giving free drugs as they are now proposing to do. My mom paid for everything for my brother and there never was any accountability for him to go straight. He was even given a kidney transplant because he had destroyed his own and even that didn’t convince him to change his lifestyle. But would giving him nothing and letting him fend for himself on the streets been the answer? I don’t know but the first way didn’t work either. I would sooner see our tax dollars going to senior care and those who haven’t abused themselves to the point of no return.

    (Response: You are indeed more fortunate than many: so many medical offices throughout BC have seen only a fraction of their former number of in-person patient visits for many months now. I certainly can understand the fear that gripped physicians for the first six to ten months of Covid: many around the world gave up their lives after contracting the disease while treating patients. But so did nurses, orderlies, hospital cleaners, police, fire, paramedics etc. … true heroes. Now, with so many British Columbians vaccinated and so few new daily Covid cases, it’s time for ALL doctors to rejoin the in-person workforce … even if it takes pressure or an Order to do so … before hundreds more British Columbians die unnecessarily because of ailments that could be missed or misdiagnosed in phone-in visits. h.o)

  7. nonconfidencevote says:

    @e.a.f.

    “Non Confidence, your suggestion about busy nights and the end of the line for drug over doses, yikes! I hear what you’re saying, but where does it end. Oh, that was a smoker and hence the heart attack, put them second from the end of the line. Drunk driver in a car accident, third from the end of the line and when they get to the hospital, they’ll have to wait before non drunk drivers are treated. We don’t get to make those calls in a civilized society. People maybe drug addicts, but they are still human beings.”

    +++

    Please.
    Check your “Holier than thou” outrage at the door.

    The system is broken .
    YOU may have to wait 2 or 3 HOURS for an ambulance for a heart attack because its “Welfare Wednesday”.
    Lets see how altruistic you are when you, or someone you know is in agony and the ambulances….arent coming.
    Fentnyl, then Covid, then the capper, three days of a heat wave.
    And the govt hasnt been dealing with this until we had the 850 EXTRA deaths due to……. heat.
    The paramedics have all be shouting from the rooftops for months about the systemic breakdown of an overwhelmed system.
    Let the drug overdose victims wait.
    The rest of us have been patient.
    Its our turn now to receive service from a 911 system that OUR decades of taxes have paid for unlike the criminals that cost the system millions in health care, police intervention, free lawyers, courts, incarceration…..all to do it again when they are released.
    Sorry, my charity and patience is all used up.
    Put them at the back of the line and let Darwin’s Rule take care of the rest.

    • jay says:

      Sorry but it can’t and won’t work that way.
      Addiction is a disease, just like diabetes and cancer. It needs to be treated as such.
      Where do you draw the line on overdose? Is an accidental overdose no bueno?
      Overdoses are generally not the fault of the user. It is the fault of the dealer. Yes yes they chose to take the drug but addicts are compelled to do so by their brain.
      It is a neural pathway that triggers their dopamine receptors that is very difficult to override. In essence they have to use or they will go through terrible withdrawals.
      Simply ignoring an overdose call would be equivalent to watching someone drown when you could throw them a flotation device.
      So no that will never happen nor should it.

      It’s interesting that people are now realizing the system is broken. I however have been part of this broken system for 20+ years.
      Nothing has really changed in that time. Wait times on busy days, crews getting stuck in the hospitals for hours, ambulances going down due to lack of staff. This is nothing new.
      I worked in vancouver and remember clearly being told on many occasions that we were the only available ambulance for the entire area from north van to hope.
      The solutions presented by the minister are a bandaid. Adding 80 ambulances is great but also useless if you have no staff to man them. Adding dispatchers is great but they don’t do the calls on the street.
      The system is at its breaking point. Radical changes need to be made and money needs to be spent.

  8. D. M. Johnston says:

    Re: Horgan & Dix:

    I am a relic these days, Mr. Analog, my sons call me, but I also believe in the old “The buck stops here”, method of government. Being Premier, makes you responsible; your minister’s decisions are your decisions.

    Dr. Bonnie Henry is a mere bureaucrat and like all bureaucrats these days must do what the Premier tells them to do or cease being $200k+ a year bureaucrat

    From the net: “Bonnie Henry Salary. Dr. Henry MD, MPH, FRCPC currently serving as the Provincial Health Officer for British Columbia earns an estimated annual salary ranging from $200,000 – $500,000.”

    It is the Premier, who ultimately tells Dix his solution or Dix will loose his $150K annual salary.

    Rereading the comments, I found this from Noncon; “It’s time to stop using ALL our resources to pander to drug addicts that over dose time and time and time again.”

    I would rephrase this to “It is time to stop pandering to the criminal drug trade in BC”

    But, that is maybe grist for another post.

    Vignette: One week ago a local lady crashed her E-bike near my house and hit her head on a curb (she was wearing a helmet). She was in serious trouble, but luckily two off duty firemen took charge. Ambulance called, serious head injury.

    About 20 minutes later the ambulance arrived, but with no siren, no hurry, as the dispatch did not tell them of the serious injury (the local firetruck was busy with another mishap) and overhearing one of the firemen making rather derogatory remarks about the ambulance service, one knows there is a serious problem.

    Translation, “there are big problems to solve.”

    From a medical family (my mom was a head nurse at VGH) a doctor must see you in person for a complete medical evaluation, as phone in consultation are very one dimensional and again the premier must instruct Dix to resolve it or he will find someone who can!

    Being premier is hard work, but when one wants to govern by Photo-op, we are in very serious trouble in BC.

  9. Not Sure says:

    I’ve been worried that people will suffer or die BECAUSE of covid not just FROM covid. I am a healthy 70 year old who used to go to the gym pretty much every day. I have not been to the gym in 17 months and as a result have gained almost 10 pounds. I doubt this will have a long term affect on me as I hope to resume gym activities soon but you get the idea. Others might not be as lucky.

    From the US

    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-covid-15-if-only-this-is-how-much-weight-the-average-person-actually-gained-during-the-pandemic-11615574913

    “In fact, one in 10 said they gained more than 50 pounds, which the APA notes is a textbook sign that people are struggling to cope with mental-health challenges. (Indeed, the report also found that one in three Americans is sleeping less during the pandemic, and more than half of parents said the level of stress in their lives has increased.)”

    As for doctor’s visits. I had a phone appointment back in December and he told me then that he was hoping to reopen in February. The third wave put an end to that. But with cases now the lowest they have been since last summer and with vaccinations where they are I see no reason why he wouldn’t be reopening now.

    But have they been fully closed all this time? As you mentioned there are some things that have to be done in person. (The dreaded but important Pap smear and prostate exam being another two.)

    As Marge pointed out some doctors are seeing patients. Are they seeing any and all or are they choosing to just see people they feel are most vulnerable at that particular moment. Could you force an appointment. A family member who doesn’t have a regular doctor did a video call using some app. The doctor told her what to do and then said if things hadn’t improved in 48 hours to GO to a doctor. She checked with a walk in clinic and was told that as long as she had talked to a doctor over the phone, she could come in. (She didn’t have to as the problem did clear up but the option to see a doctor was there.)

    Hopefully doctors are going to be fully reopened shortly, but if people feel they need to see one, as hard as it may be for some of us to be more assertive, please be more assertive. We can’t let health issues linger. Over the past 17 months I haven’t felt the need to SEE a doctor, but if I did, I would be demanding to see him or at least demanding him to direct me to someone who would. (Double that when advocating for vulnerable family members like aging parents.)

    (Response: Two unfortunate outcomes of so many doctors continuing to “phone it in” are: people may not bother even calling; others may show up at Emergency, increasing the already heavy burden there. And the statistics over the past six months should be enough to convince the government to become more pro-active in getting medical services back to normal … for the good of everyone. h.o)

  10. BMCQ says:

    The tragic/catastrophic deaths and illness took place during the “Heat Dom” were for the most part avoidable if the B.C. Health Care System was functioning as it should .

    At the time the B.C. Premier coldly stated that “Fatalities do happen”, he may as well said, “Hey, Sh8t Happens, what can I do” !

    Of course his handlers immediately called for damage control and pushed him out back into the public to make more encouraging, comforting, inclusive comments for the time since his initial uncaring comments .

    You are correct about Meggs, as I mentioned on this blog many times over the years, Meggs was the “Brain’ of former Vancouver Mayor Mumbles Robertson and he is now the “Brain” of Premier Horgan and that is not a good thing for the people of B.C. no matter what your brand of politics .

    I may be mistaken but Horgan like most other politicians is afraid to call out his base which are all too often B.C. Government Public sector Employees, trust me there is a lot of rot there but an NDP Premier may not be willing to call them out and demand accountability . To add to that media will never call out anyone in government bureaucracy, there are thousands of examples where that will never happen .

    Harvey is correct when he stated that those “Victims” that became ill or died during the Heat Dome were also victims of a “Failing” B.C. Health Care System . As a matter of fact Canadians are “Victims” right across this country are “Victims of a Federal government, Provincial Governments, and Municipal governments due to the fact that the “Bureaucracy” and the “Public Sector” are failing those same Canadians which in turn should tells us that our “Political Masters are failing Canadians as they do not care and there is no accountability, no checks and balances .

    BTW – Now that you mention it just exactly is the Auditor General ?

    In B.C. Health Care now stands at about 45% of the provincial budget with education somewhere around 20% with both increasing each year . Between an aging population, family re unification which will result in thousands of oldsters moving to B.C. Health Care will soon be over 50% of that budget and education will soon be about 25% of that budget for a total of 75%, that does not leave much for anything else, do you not think it is time for the B.C. Gov to get Gov Bloat, Waste, and Spending and priorities under control ?

    Several times here and other places I have tried to call out Paramedics/Ambulance and I have been edited, I was comforted to see that DMJ quoted the two off duty Fire Dept. Staff who called out paramedics . Whether we want to admit it or not a big part of the problem is the Pandemic of Absenteeism in paramedics and other Public Sector Workers, yes another 85 paramedics were hired but that will just allow the others to continue with their stress and sickness absences and then the additional 85 new paramedics with fall into the same pattern with no accountability . It is in fact a never ending viscious circle of abuse of the Tax Payer, we must stop it now .

    Yes, the Horgan Government should have been prepared and they should be held accountable just as a B.C. Liberal Gov would also deserve to be held accountable but let’s be honest, Premier Horgan just recently managed to manipulate the “Great Unwashed” into re electing his NDP Gov with a majority . Go figure .

    Yes Doctors should be called out as well, there are many good comments already up the page and I am sure more to come .

    And YES, those that have criticized the B.C. Governments handling of the Opioid Crisis are correct, something must be done now and serious steps need to be taken, it is long past time to reject the thinking of “Whack Job” PC SJ Warrior Poverty Pimps like Swanson, Kwan, and the others who make their living in the Poverty Industry, the Opioid Crisis is a completely different game and it will not be fixed until apprehension, detox, and rehab becomes the biggest part of the equation,, only then will you see a refresh and new beginning for the B.C. Health Care System which is not only broken it is on it’s last legs .

    We need to hold politicians of all brands accountable but we need the help of an aggressive media, without that the fix is a non starter .

    We also need an opposition B.C. Liberal party to become much more aggressive on health Care and education, without a fix the province will soon find itself in an even more serious deficit and that could prove to be disastrous .

    One very sad part to all of this is the fact that Canada, other provinces and most certainly B.C. have a sound infrustructure of Hospitals, Hospital Services, Diagnostic centres, treatment centres including Cancer Services, Childrens Care, Seniors Care other than housing, and all support required, our biggest problem in B.C. and the rest of Canada is the delivery of services in a timely manner .

    Our biggest problems are people problems, management, staff, bureaucratic bungling, absenteeism, and too many staffers in medical who make themselves victims, and that needs to stop .

    Yes, of course thee is a lot of blame to go around right from the politicians of all brands over the years to the Bloated Management that seem not to care, it is not just paramedics .

    The people of B.C. need more transparency, they need to be better informed, and they need that accountability, then we can begin to repair the broken system and make it serve and benefit the good people of B.C. the way they deserve to be treated .

  11. e.a.f. says:

    Non Confidence, pleeeeeze, I wasn’t outraged and it isn’t holier than thou. don’t do holy stuff. I’m a godless socialist. wasn’t outraged, was simply putting out a scenario which could lead from your suggestion., Society may not be happy about the amount of time, money, effort, etc. being spent on drug addicts. However, what else are we going to do. If we as a society decide to let them die, where does it stop.

    Society in general, along with professionals and politicians saw this coming. Nothing was done about it. That would have cost tax dollars.

    Fent. is an addictive drug from which few people seem to come back from. Meth messes with people’s brains and some never come back to sanity or clarity., What are we to do as a society. A couple of years ago there was an article in the news about a case in Edmonton where they attempted to charge a fent., dealer with attempted murder. Didn’t go anywhere, but it was a good start and ought to have been continued. wait times for rehab is too long and the programs too short. Then people are sent back to the areas they came from and viola the first person they run into is their drug dealer. Fewer drug dealers, might be a start if they’re dealing anything laced with Fent. Of course the politicians have to change the laws for that and that is doubtful.

    BMCQ and various police forces write/talk about the small number of criminals who cause most of the crime. Perhaps the same is true of drug addicts. Both groups, need to be dealt with in a positive manner so they can over come their problems. Many of them start in childhood and we don’t spend enough or take care enough of the children in our society.

    One of the interesting stats is that the majority of deaths due to drug use are single employed men using the drugs at home, alone. We saw the case of the young couple in North Vancouver who used drugs while celebrating and died and left a small child. Its the drug which kills and those dealers know what is in those drugs. the government knows how the drugs come into the country and if they don’t they can contact the Australian police because they have a nice chart outlining how the drugs come into Vancouver.

    What is boils down to you can’t get “clean” drugs anymore. The health care system is not going to be able to handle this on going epidemic of drugs. Things are not going to get better because doctors won’t open their offices, the paramedics were understaffed and resourced. E.R.s in many areas aren’t big enough.

    As a society we may need to accept that some can not be “saved”. They will never be able to get off of drugs or booze. These people need to be identified and treated to accomodate their addictions so they can live a life with dignity of some sort. While driving through some areas of Greater Vancouver and vancouver Island there are drug addicts and people with mental illness walking around. Its almost impossible to comprehend that humans have devolved to this state and we as a society just let it happen because when this all started, it wasn’t some one we loved or cared about. Now its so out of control, the genie is not going back into the bottle. of course having more doctors see people and having more doctors and nurses specializing in addiction might be a start.

  12. nonconfidencevote says:

    @e.a.f.

    Sooo.
    You agree that Meth and Fent addicts are “a lost cause”.
    And it’s “out of control”

    I would take that as agreement that, unless we are going to incarcerate all drug addicts and force them to clean up ( usually temporarily) wether addiction is a “disease” or not …..they will eventually get high again and od.

    The endless cash sucking vortex of drug addicts.
    A lost cause.

    Again I state.

    Are we to still sit back and watch our elderly, our young and ourselves DIE because the ambulances are overwhelmed with calls on “Mardis Gras” ( Welfare ) night?

    No one has the guts to say Enough.
    If they buy illegal drugs and over dose, once, twice, three times in one night to be brought back by paramedics again and again and again………..
    To hell with them.

    Time to let all addicts know.
    The ambulance aint coming.

    We cant afford these endless social programs any more.

    (Response: And while you all debate your favorite positions regarding drug use/opioids … more British Columbians are waiting for ambulances and/or dying, not from drugs, but … as the stats showed … from much increased rates of heart problems, chest pains and abdominal pains …while BC’s physicians hide in their offices, practicing medicine by phone and Zoom. h.o)

  13. Richard Skelly says:

    I’m truly glad things have improved for commenter Marge in finding a doctor. Her reminiscence of lining up at a clinic three hours before its 7 a.m. not all that hard to believe. After one of two walk-in clinics here in Sidney closed down in 2018, the day’s allotment of patients was filled soon after doors opened at the remaining clinic. With patients being told approximate times for returning during the course of the day.

    My wife is by any definition a complex care patient, but like about 600,000 other British Columbians—including me—has no primary physician. So, pre-pandemic, it was just rather anonymous ‘What’s your conditions again?’ care from whatever clinic partner—or more likely substitute locum—happened to be on duty.

    Luckily, neither of us have had medical emergencies during the pandemic. And the phone consults for prescription renewals have actually been vastly more convenient for my wife. It sure beats sitting and waiting two or three hours at the Saanich clinic we discovered after our Sidney clinic closed.

    Those waits will likely even be longer after the pandemic is over. Because a nearby Saanich walk-in clinic has closed in the interim.

    Makes me wonder if there is some structural flaw in walk-in clinics, threatening their viability. Or maybe the Sidney and Saanich closures—about three years apart—are just flukes.

    (Response: I’d like to know how many doctors, fully educated and trained here in BC (or elsewhere in Canada) laregly at taxpayers’ expense … head south to the US … headhunted as soon as they graduate with offers of BIG bucks and signing BONUSES!!! Clearly that poses a danger for our own health care. h.o)

  14. Not Sure says:

    DMJ: one of the firemen making rather derogatory remarks about the ambulance service.

    BMCQ: I was comforted to see that DMJ quoted the two off duty Fire Dept. Staff who called out paramedics.

    One (not two) firefighter criticizing the ambulance service (not paramedics).

    Just for the record: I don’t think anybody here is questioning that he ambulance service needs improvement. I am having a real hard time with someone dumping on the paramedics.

    And you are right Harvey, we are way off topic.

    Quick google search to see if there was any information on how often or under what circumstances doctors were seeing patients. It looks like they were seeing patients (as Marge’s was) but certainly not at the same level. There wasn’t a lot of specific information but I did find this from last month.

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/virtual-medical-care-1.6057454

    “Virtual medical care is here to stay post-pandemic, Doctors of B.C. says”

    I would like to see more details about how this would work. I think we need information on how patients felt about virtual or phone appointments. I would want to know what some of the consequences were of 18 months using some kind of virtual doctor visit. It’s an intriguing proposition. i think most people were accepting of phone visits during a pandemic, but I don’t know how people would feel about it long term.

    If the Doctors of BC are considering this, your forum may be an opportunity for people to give them feedback.

    (Response: It could take another full year before figures emerge on any impacts serious illness and mortality rates … scientifically interesting, but not great if YOU or YOURS end up being one of the victims! Another problems is the government may even like the idea of phone in or Zoom medicine: a good way to squeeze in more patients each hour! And then, down the road, since those visits may average shorter times, slow the increase in higher fees doctors get per visit? This is actually a terrific topic for “real” reporters to investigate … because it’s not likely the government will be quick to hold a press conference if they start seeing increases in incidence of serious health problems or fatalities. h.o)

  15. BMCQ says:

    My comments here are basically anecdotal, reports from family, friends, and other reports . Those comments tell me that many of their doctors before Covid simply squeeze them in, give them a cursory glance, may not even lay a hand on them and then send them off to a specialist who will be happy to see them three or four or months from that original appointment, so proper professional health care has been more or less skipping away for more than a decade . My wife snd I are so far lucky but like everyone here we hear the horror stories and in fact the neglect many go through . Harvey is correct by the way, doctors educated in Canada leave for better pay and better weather all the time, there appears to be no answer for that, the Canadian Constitution you see .

    Now with the video appointments it has become much easier for doctors, it may even get to the point that many family doctors may close their offices and work from home, several already have. We have a friend who is a throwback, he has many seniors and still even makes house calls, his patients must love him . Sadly he will be leaving the profession in a few years, it will be a shock for those patients . Zoom appts may work under some circumstances and in fact it may good policy under some conditions but seniors, compromised, children, and others that require personal visits need to be treated properly, fairly, and in a timely manner,

    I always thought that we should allow more foreign doctors into ‘Canada and once they become licensed and accredited in Canada they should put in a minimum number of years in more rural areas . I may get push back here but I am also of the opinion that B.C./Canada should pay doctors more, their level of education and their much needed skill set should be better compensated . Let’s not forget, more nurses leave Canada for the sun and higher wages than doctors overall .

    We need to look at government from the top down, tax payers are being fleeced and taken advantage of federally, provincially, and in municipalities with very little oversight and no accountability . In the case of B.C. the tax payer should be demanding a full Royal Commission on how our Health Care System works and how it does not work, that review needs to be transparent with public hearings and we need those hearings to be held on the community television panel, questions should come from the people and those questions should come from politicians and that review should take place sooner than later, people are sick and people are dying unnecessarily .

    It is disgusting to think that people in B.C. Are getting little or poor health care but it is more than sickening to know and see seniors, compromised, and other sick frail people dying by the hundreds as we saw just recently .

    How the hell can we allow government tourism to call “B.C. The Greatest Place On Earth” ?

    Tell that to the poor old senior that spent the last day or two of their life alone andchoking for air before they tragically succumbed .

    We should beep much better .

    NonCon is most correct when he lays much of the blame for our troubles at the feet of various B.C. Governments, pandering politicians, poverty Pimps and other special interests who seem fixated on directing $ Hundreds of Millions into the Bottomless Pit of the Drug Addled, and the Criminal Drug Addicted who contribute so very much to the cost and chaos of what we now have as a broken Health Care System .

    That conversation should not and cannot be off topic when the problems of Health Care are being discussed . No matter how one chooses to view this, it is almost all about money and ideology, as tax payers it is up to us to choose

  16. Bizwall60 says:

    Also what about Chiropractors, Massage Therapists, Physio Therapists I don’t think anyone mentioned . . . except for some adjustments they needed to make, particularly during the height of the pandemic here, some did temporarily close until they adjusted with the necessary PPE and protocols in place, by far they have stayed open and adjusted accordingly.

    They were just as vulnerable for a possible COVID positive patient to slip through as any Family Physician’s office. Like Harvey said, for regular family physician offices, I can understand turning to phone consultation/prescribing for say a number of months until they got a better handle on ways to deal with potential COVID-19 patients showing up, but it’s gone on far longer than it should have.

    I’m not sure who/how this decision was made. Either go to your local ER or wait and wait and wait until your regular doctor’s office is open again seeing patients. For many folks, a yearly check-up or at least once every two years is crucial, and even after a certain age, also quite important . . I mean physical and, often more important, the lab/blood checks that you’re usually sent on as well as the physical. It’s an indicator/catcher of so many things before they become serious.

    (Response: Good examples. I can understand why doctors who could do much of their initial diagnosis talking to their patients were very cautious in the first six months or even year of Covid … but now I think many just taking advantage of the “loophole”. And, exactly as you say in-person exams can reveal” an indicator/catcher of so many things before they become serious.” Time for the government/College of Physicians to step in and stop it! h.o)

  17. Gilbert says:

    It’s time to get rid of drug injection sites. They’re expensive to run and encourage drug use. With the money that can be saved by closing them, we can spend more on ambulance service.

    Too many drug addicts are overusing our ambulances. The solution is simple: they should not be prioritized when other people who seldom request an ambulance require one. Some will argue that this is discrimination, but who doesn’t think that politicians favour their supporters over their opponents?

    I live in South Korea, and health care here is truly outstanding. Even with the pandemic, doctors have always been available to see patients in person. Health care here is not free. In other words, it’s not socialized medicine, but it’s very reasonable and of very high quality. As one of my Canadian friends says, you get what you pay for.

  18. RIsaak says:

    I for one wonder how much is our elected officials deferring to the bureaucrats on most items?

    Be it Dix taking direction from the very bloated health management employees, Farnworth dithering while saying the “professionals” said no state of emergency was warranted in spite of a slew of factors making those thoughts misleading?

    Be it Horgan campaigning on increased EMS capability, until he gets caught without pants by a forecasted heat wave?

    We used to elect folks to make tough decisions in the face of peril, now we have a gang of spineless lapdogs of the bureaucracy, when if ever will we see the tail which is perpetually wagging the elected dog held to account? Maybe our model of public employees for life should be revisited?

    Typed from the smokey interior of BC where any rational, sane & thoughful person could have seen this current firestorm coming months ago.

    The evacuees from Sicamous are in many cases not relying on our government, we all know they have nowhere near the resources or manpower to safely care for all the folks affected by these fires. Off to check in on my elderly neighbors, they can at the least depend on a few of us.

    (Response: I was happy to see Dix announce …at last … the government will be making a major effort to step up increases and a major restructuring of BC’s ambulance services. Maybe now they will actually meet their 2017 election promise! But the figures out last week … about HUGE rise in ambulance calls relating to chest pains, heart problems and abdominal pains … shows there is something else also at play. I warned that could happen last September as a result of so many physicians going to dial-it-in protocols. Health officials must take a hard look at that … and if it is indeed impacting patient care and even serious illness/mortality rates, take ACTION to get doctors back to seeing patients …in person. h.o)

  19. nonconfidencevote says:

    “I’d like to know how many doctors, fully educated and trained here in BC (or elsewhere in Canada) laregly at taxpayers’ expense … head south to the US … headhunted as soon as they graduate with offers of BIG bucks and signing BONUSES!!! Clearly that poses a danger for our own health care. h.o)”

    +++

    Well I can share a story.
    A friend’s son graduated with honors from Dalhousie Medical school in Nova Scotia.
    The Nova Scotia govt had paid the majority of his tuition because he had aced all subjects every year and they had a contract with him that he would work as a G.P. for 5 years upon graduation.
    No problem.
    When he graduated there were budgets cuts and they had no where for him to be placed.
    They wiped his “commitment debt”.

    He decided to apply to Magill Uni for their Heart Specialist program and was accepted.
    Alberta offered to pay his tuition if he committed to work there upon graduation for a minimum 4 years.
    Graduates and contacts Alberta.
    Sorry, budget cuts. No work…but they paid his tuition.
    He looked around at the rest of the Provinces ….nothing.
    He applied to a Texas Hospital because they had a program he was interested in.
    Bang!
    $US 1,000,000 per year salary.
    A Lab where he could do state of the art research.
    On and on and on.
    He constantly has other hospitals all over the states tryiong to poach him away.
    I’m absolutely convinced that Canadian taxpayers have funded hundreds( if not thousands) of doctors that are now living and working in the US.

    (Response: I actually wrote a Blog on that topic 11 years ago! . This really does deserve a good look by our “leaders” .. and that will likely only happen if the “working” media start checking the stats out. I suspect federal and provincial officials would know. h.o)

  20. HARRY LAWSON says:

    Harvey

    I shared your blog with a senior friend who has no computer he raised a interesting ppoint. He wanted to know the serious cancer rates from from lumps and bumps not being seen and felt . The death rate may not be taken as related to the pandemic.

    Another thought I have a friend I am supporting who is in recovery from addictions. It is a struggle of you ever want to do a post about the system and rehab processes. This person would love to talk to you it is a real eye opener for all.

    (Response: it could take another year or even longer before the Health Ministry has comprehensive figures for all occurrences of serious illnesses and deaths during 2020 … and I suspect separating out Covid, there will still be an increase well above previous years. That would indicate to me that doctors NOT seeing patients had cost many families dearly …but I doubt the government would ever say that. But wouldn’t it be interesting to see them asked. h.o.)

  21. Art Smith says:

    Hi Harvey, I have no figures, but judging by the way most governments operate, when the health budgets are cut, it is not the health ministry staff that are cut, but the front line doctors, nurses, cleaners, lab techs, etc., etc., etc. All the superfluous managers, civil servants, administrators et al, manage to hold on to their sinecures. It is a joke, but we don’t get to laugh, we just get to pay for an inferior product. Until we get serious about holding our MLAs, MPs and other elected officials accountable, we are doomed to see this continue. Start writing letters, attending forums, calling talk shows on the radio, and yes, writing into blogs such as yours and let the know in no uncertain terms, how bloody fed up people are with these situations. The time for politeness is over, get MAD and let them have it with both barrels (figuratively of course), wouldn’t want anyone to get the vapours.

  22. e.a.f. says:

    BMCQ you won’t get any push back from me regarding increasing doctors’ pay. I recall a couple of years ago discussing pay with my G.P. and he told me how much they are paid for a ‘visit’. gulped and responded all sorts of other jobs are paid more. the Pysios, massage therapists, ciros all make more as does the local Vet oh and my hair stylist.

    What the government pays doctors not only has to cover their salary, but the rental on their offices, property taxes, utilities, office staff–usually two, equipment, etc. It simply isn’t enough.

    another problem “student” doctors face is finding a residency. Foreign doctors who wish to practice in B.C. and have passed the written exam frequently have difficulty finding hospitals where they can do their residence. I don’t know what the situation is these days but about a decade again, one major hospital had so many foreign doctors doing their residencies there there was little room for doctors who wanted to practice here. Foreign governments were paying the hospital to take their doctors for their residency. So there we were ensuring Saudi doctors at that time got their residency, but some doctor who immigrated here, lived here, wanted to practice here, could not get a residency.

    A shortage of doctors in this province is also a problem created by the B.C. Socreds. Some decades ago, it was determined B.C. and Alberta would eventually have a doctor shortage because baby boomer doctors would retire. Alberta added seats to their medical school. B.C. did nothing. Our province has also been slow to accept Nurse pracitioners. We ought to have incorporated them into our system 30 years ago. Finally now, they are being hired for the new clinics the provincial government is opening.

    An interesting point, doctors being educated in Canada and then moving to the U.S.A. for higher salaries. Requiring doctors to stay in Canada might cause a few problems with the Human Rights Commissions, however, a carefully written agreement between medical students and governments might solve the problem. You sign and agree to work in B.C. for 5 years, you get a reduced rate for university. don’t sign you pay more. At one time the Canadian military put doctors through university, but in return they had to guarantee so many years to the military. If the government had a similar “arrangement” with students it might enable young people with out financial resources to go to university to become doctors because going to medical school is not for those who come from families who do not have much in the way of financial resources. But most importantly we need more seats in universities for students to become doctors. Until that is done, we will be raiding other countries for their doctors and our kids won’t ever get to be doctors.

  23. e.a.f. says:

    Interesting story Non Confidence. Its a problem but it is a problem of our own making. Voters wanted lower taxes and so governments’ cut budgets and hence the situation you write about. Health care is not cheap nor is educating a doctor. As the e.g.s. given by Non Confidence, it is not just the fault of the politicians but the fault of the voters, who put these politicians in office. Yes, the media doesn’t deal with the back ground on situations and they ought to do their jobs and explain why we are short of doctors. Its not like we woke up one morning and there were half the doctors — disappeared. No the young students/doctors were driven away by political policies. We are currently seeing it in Alberta where 42% of the doctors want to leave and the Alberta government is cutting nurses salaries by 3% and have already cut other items in their pay so they will be making 5% less. We know where those medical professionals will be going. Lets hope some come to B.C. even with our high cost of housing.

  24. jay says:

    Telehealth is not a new thing. It has been around for a long time.
    Should doctors see patients in person? Well that depends on the patient.
    A healthy person probably doesn’t need a face to face visit.
    Some one with multiple complaints, well yes they might need that.
    We cannot blame physicians from seeing face to face visits given the covid issue.
    What needs to be evaluated is the type of visits that are going on.
    Medication renewal can easily be done via phone.
    Most minor issues can be done over the phone.
    Anything that may need significant intervention will likely need to be seen by the doctor.
    Bear in mind that most GPs don’t end up dealing with major problems.

    Now the ambulance service is an arm of the health care system.
    WE tend to be the first interaction for some people.
    When things go sideways we are the people who respond and in many cases fix the problem.
    This is why many patients who are seen by paramedics (including drug overdoses) have lower hospital stays and greater survival rates.
    Yes overdoses are a terrible thing. But ignoring them would be inhumane. One could argue that an overdose vs a heart attack is mute since most heart attacks are due to many factors that could be controlled by diet and exercise.
    Ignoring an overdose is just not easy. When a 911 call comes in for a man down, unconscious patient or a life status questionable, the dispatcher MUST send an ambulance. They have no idea if this is an overdose, a heart attack or any other issue. The moment you tell people that overdoses will no longer get a response, they will change the way they call in to 911.
    The bigger problem is people calling with non emergent calls. Something that can easily be dealt with at a clinic. The ambulance service gets used as a taxi many times and this ties us up.
    Look I get it, sometimes people don’t realize that their problem isn’t an emergency.
    The issue is that we are now tied to that call and must take them to hospital. So educate the public and this will help.

  25. BMCQ says:

    Earlier this morning I re read all posts and responses from the top of tis page, I hope that media and politicians, especially opposition politicians at all three levels are are following and and paying serious attention to what is being said here .

    e.a.f.

    Yes we should and can increase salaries/wages for doctors but PLEASE stop championing HIGHER TAXES for the Canadian people that work hard each and every day, increased taxes also affect seniors that worked, sacrificed, and saved, Leave them all alone, why should they continue to subsidize drug addict derelicts who are repeat prolific offenders who never contribute to society .

    Have you ever come across this word in your life, “Efficiencies” ? What about efficiencies ?

    Government at all levels is full of creep, bloat, waste, and programs, legislation that does absolutely no good for our country or provinces, let’s clean up that mess with a full Auditor General Report for the Federal Government and each and every province before we increase taxes to pay doctors more . Common sense can go a long way toward that goal .

    (Edited… The Senate? GG? Getting WAY off topic… which is BC doctors, death rates. h.o)

    MRI Scanners cost approx $ 1 Million dollars each give or take depending on equipment .

    Simple math tells me that if we took those wasted inefficient funds and directed them into MRI right across this country we could commission at least 100 new MRI Scanners right across this country providing the hospitals had space . We would then have enough in funds left over to staff those new MRI units for a few years .

    In the case of B.C. the dollars saved by not being required to install say 10 MRI machines based on population the saved funds could go to adding doctors and some
    specialists and diagnostic people saving the province $ millions in immediate, effective, and life saving treatment as disease/conditions would be caught in the early stages .

    Several times up the page contributors have pointed out how wait times can be dangerous and in fact life threating, more MRI means healthier safer people .

    With mismanagement, inefficiencies, bloat, and waste the tax payer of B.C. and Canada are under threat of a total breakdown in governments at all three levels and WE CANNOT TAX our way out of it, the tax payer is already being stretched to the limit with rents which are seriously compounded by property taxes, those rents affect seniors, low income, high income earners, and they affect retail, commercial, and industrial renters, even though I own properties the Property Taxes are killing business, the PT for where I sit right now went up over $ 30% over last year, that of course does not include utilities .

    People in B.C. or other provinces cannot afford to be hit with increased taxes of any kind, we live in a province with a high cost of housing, yes we need to pay doctors more but we need to use a different approach than raising taxes .

    We also need to hold doctors to account and attach conditions to those wages/salaries whether they increae or not, doctors need to step up and they need to do their job .

    In closing I would like to suggest that doctors that are willing to attend an office for treatment of SENIORS be eligible for an increased salary, this could be a specialty in say Geriatrics, yes it exists but it needs to be defined, they should be paid more and they need to be regulated so the seniors and tax payers get results for those increased wages . A move like this alone would mean earlier diagnosis of disease/conditions and it would eventually mean quicker more effective treatment which would cost much much less, a tax saving for the tax payer, better quality of life for the senior, and a better life for those in their twilight years .

    As I said yesterday, we in B.C. and the rest of Canada already have the infrastructure of hospitals with more being built, we just need to manage things better .

    As I mentioned the other day, we may be wise to bring in a Commission to do a full analysis and dissect Health care in B.C., I am sure there could be upwards of $ 1 Billion Dollars in wasted tax payers dollars being squandered, misdirected, and used
    in ways that would sicken the tax payer when they see how we lost at least 800 people during the “Heat Dome” with nothing but shrugging shoulders from Premier Horgan .

    Increasing Taxes ARE NOT the answer !

    Surely we have politicians somewhere that know and understand that fact !

    We need more from media and the opposition on this .

  26. HARRY LAWSON says:

    BMCQ.

    I totally agree with your last post however we need to get rid of the health authorities, stop the non profit service providers . Bring everything back in house run and administered by the ministry of health .The money saved would be incredible. The accountability would be outstanding.wether addictions or cancer it would be seamless.

    Just think all the mini Portland hotel societies held accountable and not funded . Hell maybe the DTES might clean up

  27. Stu de Baker says:

    I’m with nonconfidencevote, on discarding the drug addicts, but I would refine it slightly; do away with all those over say, seventy seven years, seven months, first.

    Most over that age are far more costly to maintain and put a far bigger burden on our healthcare system and available tax dollars; big savings of time and money there.

    Today’s technology should be able to detect an elderly call to 911 and simply mute the ringer.

    As far as office vs phone visits, it isn’t a simple issue and as Jay points out, nothing new.

    Until about five or six years ago, I saw my GP every couple of years or so. Since, it has been more frequent but not more than twice a year; usually an initial and then a follow up session, always in office.

    Through the pandemic, I had two phone visits and one in office visit. I had a suspicious growth, emailed a picture and got a phone appointment. The time of the call was precise, lasted less than 5 minutes and I was scheduled for an in office biopsy the following morning. Two weeks later, I received a call with “nothing found” lab results. A very efficient process.

    I also had two sessions with a specialist and those were also very efficient, with good covid protocol.

    My experience gives me the idea that elimination of meaningless office visits are a benefit of this system.

    On the other hand, a good friend has had several phone visits and has always come away feeling like the doctor was probably playing a video game while on the phone, she was that inattentive. So, is that a doctor or patient issue?

    By the way Jay, thank you for bringing calm, practical logic and common sense to the table. A rarity, indeed.

    (Response: The challenge surrounding “elimination of meaningless office visits” pre-dates the Covid crisis. I’d hate to know how much our health care system shells out for people who visit their doctor just because they are: lonely and just want to talk; those who make appointments for every minor symptom, because they don’t have to pay even a small fee; and those addicted to exams/lab tests for every and any diseases, ailment …real or just imagined. But any new “rules” stopping ANY of those could end up with real injury or doctors maybe missing something. I have a very good doctor who, even before Covid, took e-mail questions … for small problems. But that can and should never replace in person visits when it comes to heart, blood pressure, eyes, ears, other physically-affected body parts … and any doctors still treating those areas by phone or by video NOW should be admonished. h.o)

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