For months, BC’s Health Minister and top Public Health Officials were front-and-center publicly addressing the Covid numbers, outlining the dangers and introducing actions to fight the pandemic.
They even talked openly about how many elective surgeries were cancelled; how many hospital beds were occupied or available; even how to safely have sex as part of our new reality.
But there’s one very serious … and growing … threat they’ve been very quiet about: the deteriorating standard of BC health care as thousands of physicians hide from Covid … and their patients.
“Phoning it in” has become the new protocol for doctors’ “visits”.
Doctors are now paid to talk to patients on the phone instead of seeing them in their offices. That has become the new norm.
I get it. I understand.
Fearing the risks of Covid, you can’t blame doctors for opting for “treatment by telly” and distanced health care. And many patients are afraid to visit a doctor’s office.
But let’s keep it real: remote-control health care is second rate health care.
And we should all be concerned about how, long term, this new kind of health visits is affecting the health of British Columbians and, indeed, all Canadians.
With doctors no longer seeing and examining patients in person (except in very serious cases) the health of many British Columbians is being placed at higher risk.
How many times, previously, have doctors noticed something during an in-person visit: warning signs of something even more serious than the patient had originally come in about?
Just looking at someone’s eyes, skin, feet, throats, or into their ears etc. … can provide early warning signs of serious problems, before they erupt into major or even fatal conditions.
How long has it been since most patients … heart attack victims, hypertension sufferers, diabetics and those with other critical chronic illnesses … have had a doctor actually check their critical blood pressure or use a stethoscope to listen to their hearts?
Think about this: many British Columbians may have had their last in-person doctor’s visit way back in the Fall of 2019 or Winter 2020 … prior to the Covid March lockdown.
That’s now several months or even up to a year ago!
This cannot bode well for our population, especially the elderly, others with chronic health problems, even sick children.
And yet, with no end to the Covid pandemic in sight, “phoning it in” healthcare is now becoming a serious shortcoming of our health system.
But for some reason, the serious implications and risks of in-person doctors’ visits having been abandoned for several months now haven’t received much attention from our politicians, Health Officials … or even asked about by the media.
I can understand why the politicians and government health officials would stay silent on this growing dilemma … fear of upsetting physicians or not wanting to stir up public angst. As for media failing to notice or pursue the issue … maybe they’re waiting for the press release.
And yet, here’s how critical the issue is:
Setting Covid aside, the leading causes of death in Canada continue to be cancer and heart disease … 48.6 per cent of all deaths in 2018. (You can read the Stats Canada report here: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/200703/dq200703b-eng.htm .)
It’s dangerous for all Canadians … especially the elderly or others with compromised medical conditions to go for a year or more being “examined” by phone?
How can these conditions adequately be diagnosed in a phone call!
Without a doctor using a stethoscope? Without blood pressure being taken?
Not even lab tests can tell the whole story.
Especially for some of the other serious health problems that should be of concern.
” The third through tenth leading causes were, respectively: stroke, accidents, chronic lower respiratory disease, influenza and pneumonia, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, suicide and kidney diseases such as nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis,” the Stats Canada report says.
Is this the new BC health care standard? Expecting British Columbians to have early signs/symptoms of stroke or lower respiratory disease detected and diagnosed in a phone call?
Or should we just start crowding Hospital Emergency rooms to get an in-person checkup?
Our pandemic “conditions” are very likely to go on for another year … or more!
What does Dr. Bonnie Henry say about the implications of this situation? What do the various leaders/parties running in the BC election say about the dilemma?
It will be late 2021 before the 2020 statistics tell us if/how great a toll the reductions in health care has taken on us: not just the CAUSES of deaths; but also the NUMBERS and RATE of deaths as well.
But by then it will be too late for many.
It’s time for doctors to do what dentists, physiotherapists and even our barbers are doing: wear masks; sanitize frequently; and, get back to in-person visits … as a matter of course, not just the exception.
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