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Miracle Workers in a Crashing System

June 2, 2011

When I think about how much crap people say about Canadian health care  – and believe me, I’ve spewed a lot of it out myself – I am reminded that there are always major exceptions to the rule.

Health care providers in Canada are underpaid. Health care providers are overworked. Health care providers in Canada do not have access to the supplies, infrastructure, and human resources they need to do their job. I have many times witnessed single hospital and community clinic employees alike doing the job of three persons. Health care in Canada is in big big trouble.

Today I owe some major shout-outs to some miracle-workers I have the privilege of receiving care from. They are the very significant execptions to the rule.

My nurse at the Jewish General Hospital: I dropped her off a medical form I needed filling out yesterday – the kind of form people wait in line for hours at a drop-in clinic for, only to pay a 50 dollar form-filling fee. She has had it completed in under 24 hours, and is now ready for pick-up. Did I mention she and her partner gave up their Saturday night to come support me at my fundraiser two weeks ago? Did I mention she has been totally available to me through every stage of my journey with insulin? Humbling, amazing, and rare.

My dietician at the Jewish General Hospital: Not only has she called me to arrange appointments – absolutely unheard of in the public system – but she has been one of the biggest supporters of my Team Diabetes campaign, my fundraising efforts, and this blog, within the diabetes community and beyond. She gave up her weekend last week to participate in the Ottawa Marathon with Team D – in order to support her 76 year old patient who was walking the 10K. She brought me as her guest to the Team D victory party, and gave me a lift back to Montreal. Humbling, amazing, and rare.

The Amazing, Friendly, Warm, Understanding, Knowledgeable Team of Pharmacists at the Parc Avenue Jean Coutu: Few people actually understand how much I am dependent on supplies like these guys do. My pharmacists understand not only how my life depends on their job,  but they understand the emotional relationship I have developed with that requisition counter. I visit my pharmacists at least once a week – usually more – and their warmth, smiles, and familiarity with me make those visits meaningful and pleasant, even exciting. They are the front-line workers of my diabetes management. They rescued me when I lost my insulin pen last fall, have given me pointers on how to maximize my public drug plan,  have listened to me complain about how damn expensive diabetes is even with a drug plan, and have always, always greeted me with a smile.

Lest we forget that, despite the crisis public medicine is facing in our country, there are health-care angels in the most unlikely of places.


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