Six Reasons Why Health Care is not a Commodity
By Cynthis Levine-Rasky, Canadian Dimenion, September/October 2002
In the fall of 200, my aging mother went for a walk to buy a birthday card at the shopping plaza near her home. While attempting to climb a curb, she fell and fractured her hip. After surgery in an acute-care hospital, she spent eight weeks in two different nursing homes.
Why Health Care is not a Commodity
When I tell this story to my students, many of them are fooled. They associate public care with inferior service. Yet, despite the erosion of the public system, the contrast between these two facilities, the former fully private, the latter fully public, couldn't be greater.
In place Number One, during the week it took to straighten out her medications, my mother was sent drugs she didn't use and failed to receive her necessary medications, including the correct kind of insulin. Errors were made in the scheduling of meal crucial for a diabetic. As a result, my mother's blood-sugar level rose to a value of 40, threatening a diabetic coma. When asked to explain, a nurse told us that it was likely psychological in cause. It took a few visits from the dietician to straighten out my mother's meals, although often the food was too bad to eat. With only one nurse for about 30 residents, there was usually a 20-minute wait for help after pulling a cord. Cleaning of rooms was perfunctory. Soiled laundry sat in clear plastic bags in the hallways and the broadloom smelled of urine. To conceal the persistent odours, automatic misters were mounted on the walls and sprayed fragrance at regular intervals.
In place Number Two, we didn't reach my mother's room before the nurses requested her medication list and dietary needs. They had it all straightened out in half an hour. Within two hours, she had seen the physiotherapist, the dietician and three nurses to learn about her medical history, her home support and her... [continues]
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