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OPINION: Get the facts right on health care photo
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Alan E. MacPhee

Guest Opinion

Once again, the pronouncements of Mr. Don Mills’ reach P.E.I. from the towers of Halifax and, though long on opinion, remains short on fact.

For starters, P.E.I. has seven hospitals, not eight. Assuming Mills has done any calculation, savings imagined by closing rural hospitals are reduced by approximately 35 per cent. Mills does not cite any medical or health evidence with his pronouncements of eliminating rural community hospitals. In fact, rural hospitals cost less than four per cent of the $675 million Health P.E.I. budget while serving 25 per cent of the population – imagine that. Rural community hospitals are the best value in the health-care system and, as they do in Saskatchewan or Northern Ontario, we need more of them, not less – imagine that.

Should Mills do any research on health outcomes, he could easily find ample evidence that closer proximity to health resources means better health outcomes and lower system costs, including less pressure on the main hospitals. In Massachusetts, on average, no one is more than five minutes from a physician – imagine that.

In a country with the wealth, resources and capability of Canada, every Canadian should have a family physician. Islandwide Hospital Access (IWHA) advocates there is no valid reason why every Canadian does not have a family physician. Mismanagement on senior levels is the basis of the health care crisis. Surely Mills has seen the video of Inez Rudderham in Windsor, who has become the national face of the health care crisis in Nova Scotia. Her cancer polyp became a tumor because she had no access to a physician, and once again, emergency room and mental health access failed another Canadian person. Surely Mills has read about the Nova Scotia physicians who are openly stating the lack of family physicians is causing injury and premature death to Nova Scotians.

Though Mr. Mills rightly forecasts a great increase in health care needs, his proposal is to reduce health care resources, which is a strange conclusion indeed. IWHA has a similar and more dire prediction. Our position is that we are in a health-care crisis and it will soon become a disaster, but our solution is to realign resources from bureaucracy and to increase frontline services, including the number of doctors and health-care professionals. If more physicians were trained and available, better health outcomes would positively impact the lives of our fellow citizens. IWHA believes in Canada, we can have the affordable structures, systems, strategies and skills to deliver competent health care.

Since Mills is offering free advice to rural Islanders about health care, here is some free advice to him in return.

When offering rural P.E.I. advice on health care, perhaps some facts on how to achieve better health outcomes, medical studies on proximity and access would be useful. I would ask Mr. Mills to reach out to his fellow Nova Scotian, Inez Rudderham, and explain to her and her family how your system of less rural access makes lives better. Even better, fix the health-care crisis in your own Nova Scotia before offering unsolicited opinion on rural P.E.I. Or even better still, with regards to P.E.I., as a retired pollster, focus less on your opinion and more on your retirement. We can do better. Imagine that.

Alan E. MacPhee is chairman of Islandwide Hospital Access (IWHA).

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