KAMLOOPS — Anyone who knows anything about health care, in whatever capacity, knows that the system is broken, and in desperate need of repair. Long waits at walk-in clinics, long waits in the ER, long waits to find a family doctor, long waits for consults and longer waits for surgeries. The list goes on. No health care in small towns, where should I stop? There are no easy answers to the dilemma. If there were, many an election could be won with a practical solution. I do believe a solution exists, but it would take open minds and a real commitment to a solution to make something happen. I believe the people are there to provide answers, but we have to be prepared to put aside the rhetoric, the political and philosophical differences and find some ground for resolution. It would take all political parties, it would take all unions involved in health care, it would take doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and those who are on the receiving end of these services, to identify a practical plan to treat what in reality is a catastrophe waiting to happen. How can we provide more doctors into the system, how can we provide medical services in rural communities, where can nurses be more effective, where can pharmacists help more, how can we realistically reduce wait times, how can we streamline operating room services. How much money will it take to make at least a step in the right direction? All these groups, working together, provide the only means for a real solution to the health care crisis. Sadly, I don’t see any of that happening. There are so many agendas to overcome, so many areas where compromise would be necessary, that it seems like a monumental task. But if there were a hope for such a study, I think Terry Lake would be the ideal person to lead it. He has done a lot in his time as Health Minister to move a number of things forward. I know it’s not the progress he would have liked to see, but I think he really gets what needs to be done, and would have a vision for how that might be accomplished. Can we get everyone to agree to a methodology that could make this a reality? Probably not in my lifetime. But if we don’t, I can’t imagine the cost in lives that will occur. People from all these groups talk the talk, but they don’t walk the talk. They suggest they are concerned about the system, but their only solution is to throw more money at it, and that just isn’t going to cut it. The old saying about Nero fiddling while Rome burned about sums it up. As Nero is alleged to have done, we stand idly by and deal with trivia while watching a crisis occur before our eyes. The story of Nero is apparently far from accurate, but the symbolism behind the story certainly is not.
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