Still the Same

It’s good to know that some things never change.

Even though emergency rooms in Montreal are completely empty, it still takes the doctors there all day to make the simplest diagnosis.

My mom came in this morning with crystal-clear symptoms of appendicitis. It took her until now – so a whole working day – to be told that, guess what? It’s appendicitis.

Well, at least they managed to diagnose. In my experience, they just as often have no idea what the simplest, most basic conditions look like.

And they have the worst COVID mortality in the world in the most “socialist” province of the country.

Anybody still up for a discussion of the grrrrreat Canadian healthcare system?

29 thoughts on “Still the Same”

      1. I’m repeating this ad nauseam since 2008.

        We have many good things in Québec, but our healthcare/nursing homes system is horrendous.

        (Another big problem here is nepotism for government jobs…and blocking some unwanted person for Ph D.)


  1. So sorry to hear about your mom’s experience, hope she is now being properly cared for and treated.

    (I have relatives – a nephew and his wife – who are both doctors in Montreal, but they don’t work doing assessment in emergency. They’re very professional individuals but work in a system which is just as you say, riddled with issues. Quebec can be the very best of places but it can also be a frustrating pain in the butt)


    1. Thank you! We have an added problem in that she doesn’t speak any English or French and the hospital is reluctant to let in my sister who can translate because of COVID precautions.


      1. “she doesn’t speak any English or French and the hospital is reluctant to let in my sister who can translate because of COVID precautions…” How stressful for your family, I can’t imagine! (Video-chat for translation??)


  2. “It took her until now – so a whole working day – to be told that, guess what? It’s appendicitis.”

    So how long does your mother have to wait to get the surgery?


      1. That’s great! But under normal circumstances in the Canadian government-run medical system, how long might your mother have had to wait?


        1. “under normal circumstances in the Canadian government-run medical system…”

          There is no Canada-wide system – constitutionally, the provinces have jurisdiction over Health care. The provinces receive considerable federal funding for their systems so levels of care across the country are more or less, but not perfectly, equivalent. Patients pay little or nothing directly for services as funding comes indirectly through the tax system.

          As a patient, once you gain access to specialized resources, like emergency surgery in the case of Clarissa’s mother, the level of care is generally very excellent. The problem is gaining access – medical care is rationed in all the provinces and so there are real barriers to accessing anything beyond a first visit to a walk-in clinic. Waiting in line to be seen at a hospital emergency room can take only 2-3 hours or many, many hours depending on demand that day and the perceived seriousness of the medical issue.

          Many people (myself included) don’t have a regular physician – there’s a real shortage even in urban areas – so I use walk-in clinics when absolutely necessary. If I wanted to be assigned a doctor, I would have to apply to a government bureaucrat who would at some point down the road assign me a doctor, no choice. When a first line family/clinic doctor refers a patient to a specialist or when a patient is assigned capital intensive follow-up tests like MRIs, one can wait in line for weeks or months depending on the urgency. There are few workarounds to rationing since private clinics or testing facilities outside of the provincial system are generally illegal. It can, however, help to know someone like a politician or someone with influence inside the medical system who can grease the wheels for you.


            1. “I’m glad I don’t live in Canada.”

              LOL – There a lots of good reasons for that including our miserable weather.

              As for healthcare, Canada’s system does cry out for major reforms but, still, there aren’t many Canadians who would want to adopt the U.S. model.


              1. Well, actually Canadian weather is something I deeply miss.

                Also, the food is better and healthier. The political space is saner. Tim Hortons is everywhere.

                OK, now I’ve made myself sad.


              2. “Canadian weather…miss”

                You are aware that every year Ottawa dukes it out with Ulan Bator for the honour of being the world’s coldest national capital? An aside, based on my very small sample size, one can nearly always generate a laugh of surprised,spontaneous mirth out of native Russians when they learn that (a) Moscow is not the coldest capital in the world, and (b) Ulan Bator is.


              3. I love the cold. It can never be too cold for me. I walk barefoot in the snow and I’ve never worn a hat since I became an adult and had a choice. 🙂

                I also get depressed in sunny weather. I love an overcast sky, a howling wind, rain, snow, blizzard, that kind of thing.

                Oh, to dig the car from under a pile of snow! There’s no better exercise!

                I know, I’m weird.


        2. What can happen to you in Canada can vary to a very significant degree.
          My experiences are more or less in line with what GSW has described.
          Once upon a time I discovered a little hernea. It was not bad, so it did not warrant a visit to the emergency facility. In theory, I do have a family physician, but his office is somewhere away from the areas where I normally go, so I did not bother with him and have chosen a day I could waste and went to a walk-in clinic. In Westmount, this is kind of upscale posh anglophone part of Montreal. I like that clinic, so I go there when I can. After a couple of hours I’ve been seen by a generalist who confirmed the diagnosis and referred me to the surgeon. The latter was located in a different place and had kind of private practice that was still accepting the provincial health plan. Anyway, I got an appointment for a couple of days later. After the surgeon has met me, the date of surgery has been set for a couple of days later, and I was also referred to the blood test. The actual surgery has been performed in a hospital in still another part of the city, the francophone one. So I was a bit concerned that they may refuse to speak with me in English. But this has not happened. The anesthesiologist gleefully informed me that he has injected me with vodka and I must like that… And then I fell asleep and then I woke up. There were no complications and the whole saga took about a week from the time I set foot in the walk-in clinic.


  3. “Even though emergency rooms in Montreal are completely empty…”

    Ummm… apparently not, this might help explain why your mom experienced a long delay yesterday.

    “As of 8 p.m. Thursday, the Montreal General ER was filled to 145 per cent capacity. Seven other ERs were overflowing, including the one at the Royal Victoria (at 139 per cent).”


    1. GSW, it is actually not true. Our emergency rooms are completely empty. When we came in there were 2 other people in the waiting room total and our wait time was a total of 2 minutes. Once admitted it took the whole day because they kept doing test after test after test. They started tests by 9 am and the last test was at 5 pm. Every time we went by waiting room for yet another test, I saw that it continued to remain empty. My mom was the only one in post-surgery recovery room (capacity of 8) and had a semi-private room all to herself because the floor was not at capacity.


      1. Apologies for posting this link – I don’t live in Montreal and had no idea about the anglo/franco split in coverage and that this reporter in particular had already been called out for spreading misinformation. (Quebec can be the best of places and the most bizzaro of places at the same time.)

        But the v. good news is that your mom is already home and recovering – God bless!


        1. I’m grateful you posted it. It allowed me to see first-hand how panic is manufactured. It’s a fascinating thing.

          Also, the reaction of people in Québec when I shared this story was priceless. All I heard in response was that I’m racist if I doing this white journalist’s story. It’s insane.


          1. Panic sells. $$$ It gets web-clicks (got me!)

            Re-reading this article, it seems that the reporter is relying primarily on single sources at two hospitals to give him an ‘inside’ story that he then inserts into an already scripted Henny Penny narrative. Who knows what’s motivating his sources, they seem to be drama queens/kings to me, breathlessly reporting that there were 15 (FIFTEEN)!! Wuhan flu cases in the last two months (!!) at the Montreal General where thousands of people must pass through every few days. By way of comparison, the nursing home my daughter’s provincially-mandated hospital SWAT team cleaned up in our city had 87 cases among a very much smaller staff.

            Very puzzled about what your criticism of this journalist’s story could possibly have to do with racism but I take it that you are not in fact deeply ashamed of whatever privilege you are supposed to enjoy, so, I say – enjoy it to the full before the thought police track you down.


            1. This is how the accusation of racism plays into this. They saw the posts where I mock the sainted “protesters” in Minneapolis. That must mean I’m a Nazi. That, in turn, must mean that any statement I make about absolutely anything must be motivated by my desire to “literally murder brown bodies.”

              This is absolutely how these people think. And these are the people who have all the power in this country and even in Canada.


  4. “They saw the posts where I mock the sainted ‘protesters’ in Minneapolis.”

    Funny how this works — minute-by-minute media hysteria about arresting the police officers, feverish outrage about police briefly detaining a television news crew, and crickets on arresting the professional rioters who are burning down police stations.


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