My mother was taken to the hospital yesterday with heart problems, disturbing enough in itself, but the story my sister told me on the phone last night was something that should disturb all of us.
Mom was taken by ambulance and as all ambulances do, had one driver and one attendant. When they reached the Soldier's Memorial Hospital in Orillia, she was triaged, again very normal. Because she was stable and accidents and near drownings took precedence, she was at least three hours on the guerney before she was treated and admitted.
The ambulance attendants are obligated to stay with their patient until they are treated. So the two of them had to wait around for three hours. Actually, their shift ended in the middle, so another two were sent in to take their place and the original two went home. In the meantime, two other patients were brought in by ambulance and their attendants had to stay with them. Six paramedics, taken out of service for almost half a day, just to stand around and wait for their charges to be seen by a doctor. It was a busy day for emergencies and because of the demand for ambulances, paramedics had to be brought in from a neighbouring municipality to take up the slack caused by these six being out of service for hours. And that was just ONE hospital.
The hospital could hire an extra nurse, or even have one on call to stay with patients waiting to be treated. And why don't they? Because that would come out of the hospital's budget. Six paramedics standing around aren't the concern of the hospital, because they don't have to pay them. Who pays for six wonderful, talented and poorly utilized people to stand around at a median wage of $25 per hour? Ultimately you and me.
When government looks at health care to determine ways of cutting costs and streamlining care, they look at each individual service. It's about time the system was looked at as a single entity with different arms and maybe that would eliminate a hospital trying to save money like a corporation and forgetting that they are only a part of a larger whole. The money they save in this case is simply money lost by another partner. And we keep on paying through the nose.