Where can you find after hours healthcare?
By Gail Packwood
The 2012 Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy survey recently released depicts Canadians as one of the highest users of emergency rooms among the countries surveyed. The survey questioned primary health care physicians from a number of countries including the United States, France, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Norway and the Netherlands in addition to Canada.
Two key questions addressed in the survey were what percentage of physicians say most or almost all of their patients can get same-day or next-day appointments when requested, and what percentage of physicians say their patients can see a physician or nurse when the practice is closed, other than at a hospital emergency department. Canada did not fare very well in either category with a national average of less than 50% of Canadian physicians responding positively. Rural areas in the country showed even poorer results – in some provinces less than 30% of responses were positive. Canada’s numbers had slipped ever further from the last year survey results were available (2006).
Emergency rooms are a very expensive way of accessing healthcare for those medical issues that are not in fact an emergency. With only an average of 46% of our family practice doctors reporting having a system in place for their patients to use during after hours for care, many people feel they have nowhere else to turn to other than hospital emergency rooms.
What can you do if you or your family falls ill after hours or on the weekend? Your first step should be to check with your family practitioner’s office. While it is true that less than half of physicians in Canada have an arrangement for care during non-office hours, if yours does, you should be sure to take advantage of it. Often your doctor will have directions on their answering service for how you access these arrangements, so even if you know their office is closed, call the number and see if this is the case.
Most communities have walk-in clinics, often located in shopping malls and office buildings, which have longer hours than a typical doctor’s office. Many do not take appointments so you may have to wait a while to be seen but chances are your wait would be much shorter at a clinic than at an emergency department.
The pharmacist at your local drug store is also a valuable source of information. While the pharmacist does not diagnose ailments, they can recommend possible treatments for many common illnesses.
In Ontario, the government additionally offers the Telehealth Ontario service through which residents can speak to a registered nurse free of charge 24 hours a day. The nurse will advise as to what they think your best course of action should be and whether a visit to the doctor is recommended. The number for Telehealth Ontario is 1-866-797-0000.
Naturally in the case of an emergency, always call 9-1-1 and visit a hospital emergency department immediately. However in non-emergency situations there are other sources of medical advice available to you.
What can medical students learn from art?
Robert Pope, Dalhousie medical school's first artist in residence, painted his journey with cancer. His work was displayed for medical students so that they could learn from what he went through and is now on exhibition for the public.
Watch the television news story: http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2012/11/09/promo-art-medical-school.html
There's more to life than being happy
Emily Esfahani Smith, The Atlantic Monthly
In September 1942, Viktor Frankl, a prominent Jewish psychiatrist and neurologist in Vienna, was arrested and transported to a Nazi concentration camp with his wife and parents. Three years later, when his camp was liberated, most of his family, including his pregnant wife, had perished -- but he, prisoner number 119104, had lived. In his bestselling 1946 book, Man's Search for Meaning, which he wrote in nine days about his experiences in the camps, Frankl concluded that the difference between those who had lived and those who had died came down to one thing: Meaning, an insight he came to early in life. When he was a high school student, one of his science teachers declared to the class, "Life is nothing more than a combustion process, a process of oxidation." Frankl jumped out of his chair and responded, "Sir, if this is so, then what can be the meaning of life?"
As he saw in the camps, those who found meaning even in the most horrendous circumstances were far more resilient to suffering than those who did not. "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing," Frankl wrote in Man's Search for Meaning, "the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."
Frankl worked as a therapist in the camps, and in his book, he gives the example of two suicidal inmates he encountered there. Like many others in the camps, these two men were hopeless and thought that there was nothing more to expect from life, nothing to live for. "In both cases," Frankl writes, "it was a question of getting them to realize that life was still expecting something from them; something in the future was expected of them." For one man, it was his young child, who was then living in a foreign country. For the other, a scientist, it was a series of books that he needed to finish. Frankl writes:
This uniqueness and singleness which distinguishes each individual and gives a meaning to his existence has a bearing on creative work as much as it does on human love. When the impossibility of replacing a person is realized, it allows the responsibility which a man has for his existence and its continuance to appear in all its magnitude. A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the "why" for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any "how."
To read the full article: http://m.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/01/theres-more-to-life-than-being-happy/266805/
Wait times persist for ER, primary care, report says
Canadians wait an average of four hours for emergency room care, and one in 10 patients waits at least eight hours, a report says.
According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, wait times persist throughout the patient journey, beginning with primary care.
At least 50 per cent of patients surveyed have difficulty obtaining a same-day or next-day appointment with their family doctor, the report says.
For 14 per cent of Canadians, it can take more than three months to see a specialist, and more than four months for 25 per cent of patients needing elective surgery.
When it comes to acute care, roughly 5 percent of patients languish in hospital beds to be transferred to residential care or sent home. The wait for one-fifth of these acute-care patients can be more than a month. Most such patients are over 65 years old.
The report, titled “Health Care in Canada, 2012: A Focus on Wait Times,” Canada lags behind other countries in providing timely access to health care services.
The report cites as an example a 2010 survey that ranked Canada lowest among 11 countries for wait times in primary care, specialist care and elective surgery.
However, according to the report, wait times for treatment for cancer, cardiac, joint-replacement and sight-restoration operations have decreased since 2004-2005, mostly because of the investments made to reduce waits for those treatments.
Canada 55+ Games Association
By Gail Packwood
For the next few weeks, we are going to profile organizations that you may not have heard of, whose focus is on improving the lives of seniors in Canada.
The Canada 55+ Games Association held their first national event in 1996 in Regina, Saskatchewan with annual provincial games dating back to 1980. The association was formed in order to encourage a focus on wellness within the Canadian population over 55 years of age – their approach considers spiritual, mental and physical wellbeing as being equally important to an individual’s health. The Association intends to provide a social network for older Canadians as well as act as a resource for information on how to get involved and increase levels of physical activity in this population.
The Association’s mission is to deliver a “biannual multi-event Canada 55+ Games as a unique blend of active and passive activities” and to work “continuously to influence personal behaviour and social supports that encourage healthy, active living for older adults in Canada”.
These “Games” differ from events like the Pan Am or Commonwealth Games in that their focus is not solely on sport. Many of the core activities at each 55+ Games are far more dependent on mental fitness than physical. And the Games are “fun-focused” and as such the emphasis is placed on participating rather than winning. Every two years up to 1500 older Canadians get together for the Games after competing and being selected on a provincial level in their home provinces.
For the 2012 Games, over 10,000 seniors participated at the provincial competitions. Every province, with the exception of British Columbia, Newfoundland and Nunavut, currently has provincial Canada 55+ organizations. For those three districts without representation, people looking to participate can work with other provincial fitness and seniors’ organizations to qualify for the Games. There is a list of links to some of these organizations on the Canada 55+ Games Association website.
But what types of activities are represented at the Games? Core events include everything from darts to curling to Scrabble and track and field. Bowling, cribbage, swimming and tennis are also included at each Games. Each host community can also choose from other optional events, which range from badminton, Bocce, table tennis and whist, to make up their Games schedule. So each Games will have its own unique mix of events and participants.
The next national Canada 55+ Games is scheduled to be held in Strathcona County, Alberta in 2014. So there is plenty of time to get involved! Participants have to provide their own transportation to the Games but accommodation and meal assistance is available once there.
For more information and to find out how you can get involved, see the Canada 55+ Games Association website:
Page 5 of 19