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Is Canada's Health-Care System Really that Bad?


By Walter Schneider

Bruderheim, 2002 09 18

Here is something that few people, other than those directly affected by it, pay much attention to. It relates to part of what men lose when they get kicked out of their marriages.   Although some men without any doubt cause the breakdown of their marriages, most divorced men did not.  However, what this article describes affects anyone who does not have the chance to live out his days in the care of loving and caring relatives, anyone who is deprived of the love and care of a family.  As the deliberate destruction of our families goes on unabatedly, that will be most of us.

We all have to go and meet our maker, but let's hope that none of us have to take a road like this.  Let's hope as well that we will have someone who will look after our interests when we no longer have the strength and ability to do that ourselves.

My wife and I had a long talk last night with Mrs. Smith (not her real name), a friend of ours who had just recently looked after the long-term palliative care of her daughter who had been dying of diabetes.

During the past few years, Mrs. Smith increasingly became involved in caring for her husband, who is afflicted with prostate cancer that has now spread to many other parts of his body. He is presently in a local hospital, from where he is being transferred as needed to the W.W. Cross Hospital in Edmonton for his cancer treatment and examinations.

Mrs. Smith is experiencing now that the quality of hospital care her husband receives at the local hospital leaves much to be desired. Moreover, some of the nursing her daughter received during her stay in the same hospital, for post-operative care, was less than desirable, some of it was absolutely deplorable. I'll spare you the details but one.

Mrs. Smith observed that one of the nurses, as she was cleaning a long and deep surgery wound in her daughter's stomach wall that was intended to heal slowly from the inside out, removed the stuffing from the wound and disposed of some of it in the garbage can, while portions of it fell to the floor. Then, as the nurse was preparing to dress the wound, Mrs. Smith explained to the nurse why the stuffing was there and that it had to be replaced.  The nurse took with her bare hands some of the discarded stuffing back from the garbage can, and even from the floor, and placed it back into Mrs. Smith's daughter's wound. The nurse is still working and was apparently not even reprimanded.

As Mrs. Smith told us, some of the things that are being done to her husband are not much better. If it weren't for her concern and her critique of some of the hospital's actions, inaction and neglect, her husband would long be dead or at least be past the point of hope for recovery.

She had to take over the administration of her husband's oral hygiene, as her husband was so badly cared for by the nurses that he developed thrush. She had to go the local pharmacy to buy what is needed for the treatment of that.

Moreover, her husband developed a serious internal inflammation of the scrotum. His scrotum, testicles, penis and foreskin are swollen to grotesque proportions, with his testicles now being close to the size of baseballs. The woman had to buy from the local pharmacy what is needed for treatment and administer it. The hospital was not only a cause of that condition of her husband but let it go untreated.

Mr. Smith's diapers were being changed infrequently, apparently no more often or even less than once a day. In consequence, he developed a serious and extensive diaper rash. The supplies for the treatment of that have to be bought by Mrs. Smith from the local pharmacy and then have to be applied by her to treat her husband's skin condition that has left him raw and red throughout his whole crotch, over large areas on his buttocks and over all of the area between them.

Mrs. Smith now also changes her husband's diapers and regularly checks him over (as she did with her daughter) for any possible bedsores, which she then points out to the nurses, as otherwise they would go undetected and untreated unless they would, as was the case with her daughter, become so bad that they extend down to the bone, require surgery and will subsequently not heal anymore.

Mrs. Smith now expects that her husband, as soon as his current round of cancer treatment is over, will be transferred to her home, for her to care for him until he passes away. She will be required to pay the costs of nursing visits (two or three visits per week) and has no clue how she will manage the paying or the caring, as they are not well off. She is getting on in age, and her own health - on account of the stress she suffers from - is seriously deteriorating, having required her to make several visits to hospital emergency rooms for examination and treatment of a total bowel blockage.

I don't think there is any possible way she can manage to look after her husband's medical- and nursing care on a 24-hours-a-day basis with only two or three visits a week by a professional nurse.

Anyone thinking that men get the better deal in divorce should think again. The sacrifices made by women such as Mrs. Smith will become more and more necessary and more and more commonplace as our health care system continues to erode and to fall into chaos. In the case of Mrs. Smith, there is some help by one of her daughters.

Divorced women with children will not die alone and not-cared-for by our atrociously deteriorating hospital, we hope. However, for any divorced man in the position of Mr. Smith, the loving care and concern such as that which Mrs. Smith and her daughter provide, is most likely not available at all. He would possibly be left to rot to death, even though ostensibly receiving hospital care.

Mrs. Smith asked me not to reveal her real name and not even the details of her circumstances. She is afraid that when she becomes older, feeble and ill, the hospital will retaliate and punish her for telling the truth about what is happening there.

However, I had to tell that much, because horrible and inhuman treatment like this by the agents of our health care system can not be permitted to continue. Maybe, now that I told this, I will be able to sleep tonight, but I doubt it. There is far more to tell about this story, and that is still bothering me.


Epilog:

Mrs. Smith objected to the intentions of the hospital to have her look after the palliative care for her husband, and the hospital proceeded to look after Mr. Smith's well-being.

For some of the time during the past month Mr. Smith had been hallucinating, for as long as a week, because the medical staff at the hospital had been over-dosing him with pain medication.  When he had a clear moment, he asked his wife that the administering of all medication required to attempt to "cure" him should be stopped, as his condition was obviously and rapidly becoming far worse, and there was no more hope.  That was then done, and only pain medication was still being given orally.

Mr. Smith could no longer swallow.  Every time he received his pain medication, he would choke.  The nurse would pull him upright to allow him to catch his breath, lay him back down again and proceed to give him the rest of his dosage, upon which he would promptly choke again. It was, literally, torture.

It was suggested to the nurse that she should simply hook up an intravenous drip for the medication.  She said she could not because she did not know how to hook up and use the metering device.  However, after Mr. Smith's daughter complained to the doctor involved and to the hospital administrator, a metering devise got hooked up.  At least Mr. Smith did not go out of this life choking to death on the medication that was intended to ease his departure.  He passed away during the early morning hours of October 19, 2002.

If you have concerns about these and other issues related to the condition of seniors, visit, contact and perhaps even join:

SUN Seniors United Now

The up- and coming, rapidly-growing advocacy organization for seniors (55 years and over) in Alberta

There are in the order of about half a million or more people of age 55 and over in Alberta. If all of them were to join SUN, they would become the most powerful advocacy organization in Alberta; and seniors would no longer be robbed of their comforts and otherwise ignored.
   At the price of one package of cigarettes seniors will be able to gain a voice that will be heard by a government that otherwise can and will take from seniors what they worked for all their life to enjoy in their old age.

If you are concerned about how seniors are affected by the planned, systematic destruction of our families and society, a search at google.com (for elderly OR seniors OR grandparent OR grandfather OR grandmother site:http://fathersforlife.org) will provide you with the links to about 80 web pages at Fathers for Life that will be of interest to you.


See also:

  • Fatal Abuse and Neglect of the Elderly

[U.S.] Nursing homes quietly kill thousands

Full story (series in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Oct. 12 - 19, 2002)

Abstract and commentary (The problem of fatal abuse and neglect of the elderly on a massive scale is not unique to the U.S.)

Back to Index of Health Issues


White RoseThe White Rose
Thoughts are Free

__________________
Posted 2002 10 24
Updates:
2004 06 24 (added entry for SUN — Seniors United Now)
2007 12 14 (reformated)