Legislative Report (26 April 2006)

Legislative Report

26 April 2006

NDP Falter Again Now on Health

For most of this week, members of the Legislative Assembly have been focusing their attention on the tragic case of Paige Hansen. She’s an 18 month-old girl from Humboldt. And it’s becoming increasingly obvious the Saskatchewan health care system failed her.

Paige was suffering from swollen limbs. She was unable to walk. And worst of all, Paige was constantly screaming. Her parents took Paige to the doctor and the hospital. Despite three weeks worth of these visits, no diagnosis could be made. Paige’s mother asked repeatedly for referrals to the children’s hospital in Edmonton. No one would offer her any help.

Finally in desperation, the family packed up their car and took Paige to Edmonton. Within 24 hours, all the required testing had been done and the family had a diagnosis. Paige has now returned to Saskatchewan and is beginning her treatment for leukemia.

There are several very sad dimensions to this story. Officials with the Health District in Saskatoon admitted there is no valid explanation for why the family was told they had to wait three weeks to get Paige a bone scan. And no one bothered to tell the family the actually didn’t need a referral for Paige. People with a valid Saskatchewan health card can go to an emergency room, a physician or a walk-in clinic anywhere in Canada and get treatment they will not be charged for. The only exceptions are MRI’s, cataract surgeries and bone density scans.

However, what is more disturbing is the complete collapse of the communications system in the Paige Hansen case. These patients were desperate for information on what could be done to alleviate their child’s suffering. No one seemed to be able to offer them the complete picture about why there was no diagnosis and what their treatment options actually were.

The NDP likes to point with pride to the health care system. However, we’re seeing increasing problems with the way this system is being managed. Nurses and other front line workers are working hard, sometimes to the point of burn-out. There is no real strategy to retain and recruit health care professionals. A man in Saskatoon having a heart attack is forced to wait 15 minutes until the Emergency Room opens. A woman from Meath Park is told she will have to wait three months to see a doctor and start her cancer treatment. When one of the close to 30,000 people on the surgical waiting list phones to find out how soon they may be treated, they get a recorded message saying it may take several days before their questions are answered. You have to wait to find out where you are on the waiting list!

Something is wrong with the way this system is being managed. What’s needed is a complete patient care review so that we know where money is being effectively spent, where money could be saved and how communication between health districts and patients can be improved. Unless this is done, more and more people will simply fall between the cracks and suffer needlessly.

If you have a question about this report or any other matter, just Contact Don.

Past Legislative Reports