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Hi Mark,
The Canadian medical system is open to everyone and mostly free. Couple of things restrict access though. A shortage of doctors makes the system the hobby of every half-assed efficiency management ever tried. Unfortunately within that “profession” there is no shortage initiators coupled with a complete absence any genuine monitoring. (Like most places burdened with conservative politics there are lots of rules’ but no enforcement).

Next is isolation. This is the Canadian North which has little to offer someone who’s a lot of time training in a more diverse urban setting. We have about 10 regular doctors and some traveling specialists and the majority are sloppy and overworked. One clinic in this area serves for walk-ins and also supplies all the doctors at the local hospital where they do rotating shifts. All this adds to bad and inconsistent service without any continuity of care. As a patient with chronic problems I’m forced to take what I can get and commonly have to wait weeks to see my “family doctor” who knows my history. Right now she’s on unannounced holiday until February leaving me with no one to see except the hospital “doctors” in Emergency and no contact with my main clinic in Edmonton oncologist. Since I managed to irritate her between my first and second chemo infusions in August and she quit when my doctor was again away for a month in August and was only available when my doctor sent and received messages from her office I effectively have had no care contact beyond the chemo treatments since I started.

You can ask for doctors, and doctors can dump you, but given shortages you take who you are assigned to. Another limitation is all oncologists work for the main clinic or its three branch clinics. In a perverse model of teamwork they cohere to each other like a pack of dogs. One shuns you and they all do, so the branch clinic I visit because it is closest only provides chemo and some terse “care” and will not answer any questions, referring me on to my doctor or the main clinic and “my” nonexistent lead oncologist.

Outside the two main cities in Alberta health services are minimal. The highest death rate in the Province is here in the North East where billions are spent on oil extraction yearly but tax rates to corporations are low and most workers are on temporary shifts and pay their taxes to the province they actually live. In the cowboy mentality here we live hard, play hard and die with our boots–as in we are poorly served and never make it to the hospital in time to change our shoes anyway. At the hospital they misdiagnose and fool around until you die or get better, either option seems to meet their goals.

I think there’s lots of politics interfering with the system here. Though the fact that the same party has been in power for over 40 years indicates that the population of bovine voters are content, so it’s the population that gets my thumbs down. Most frustrating here is there is no dialog on anything. Politics as it is consists of mooing what sound like slogans in the place of opinions. It’s a great place to perfect meanness and treasure the very rare human connections you come across.

As a solution I may be switching to another medical clinic about 11/2 hours drive from here. About 30% of the town’s people travel out of here for a closer contact with 20th century medicine. Be interesting to get to know one doctor that I can rely on. Or piss off:-)

I see this as a kind of silencing and won’t accept it.