Why I Support Alberta Doctors
I received a big response to last week's blog. I wrote about the Twitter war that has erupted between Alberta's doctors and Health Minister Tyler Shandro.
As I wrote it, I thought about some tremendous care I received from an eye specialist and as the days went on last week, I wondered whether I would be able to get the same quality of treatment in a few years from now.
I normally don't get political, but this week I am. Here's why I support Alberta's doctors.
Doctor My Eyes
In the spring of 2018 I discovered I had a problem with my vision. My right eye seemed to be cloudier than my left and I was concerned I had a cataract. I saw my optometrist and he discounted my concern, but said there was something that wasn’t right and suggested I see a specialist. He made a referral and I got an appointment, but needed to wait for six months.
In January 2019 I went to the Eye Clinic at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton for an appointment with Ophthalmologist Dr. Chris Rudnisky. First through I had my eyes examined by other members of the staff, then had more tests on different equipment and met with a resident doctor who was working with Dr. Rudnisky, to explain my issue.
Finally, Dr. Rudnisky did an extensive exam and told me he felt the problem was related to a detached retina I had 15 years before. He may have sensed I wasn’t understanding what the current issue was, so he took the time to show me what my eye looked like on computer images and then used a white board to draw a picture to help explain what was happening.
He then gave me more information about possible treatments and let me choose what I wanted done. One option was for laser surgery, which seemed to be the best solution. I asked when that could be done, sensing I’d have to wait another six months. “Right away if you want” he said. Five minutes later he was using a laser to clean some “scar tissue” from my eye. When I got home and sat in front of my computer I quickly realized how much brighter everything already seemed to be.
One month later I was back to see Dr. Rudnisky for a follow-up visit and it was more of the same. I received the time and attention needed to feel like my problem was being handled the best way possible. The level of care was outstanding and I remember walking out of the hospital (it was Valentine’s Day) and thinking how lucky I was to live in a province and a country where I could receive such excellent treatment and didn’t have to pay anything more than what I had already paid in taxes.
Full disclosure now. I have done media training for the Alberta Medical Association (AMA) for several years, helping their leaders, along with other doctors, learn how to communicate effectively to the media.
The AMA and its local chapters have been great clients and I’ve done some of my best media training sessions with doctors. It’s been a bit of a humbling experience because although I never went to university, many of the doctors I’ve worked with have more letters after their names than I have in mine. However, they know what they don’t know and want to get better communicating with others, including when they speak to the news media.
I've also been incredibly impressed how important patient care is to doctors. That always appears to be their number one concern.
The comments I’m about to make are not affected by my relationship with the AMA and I should also mention I’ve done media training for the provincial government too. This is about what's right.
Penny Wise and Pound Foolish
As most people who read this blog know, I write about the media, social media and communication. When I write about politics, it’s normally related to how politicians deal with the media or handle issues in social media. I leave the political commentating to others, because that’s not my specialty.
Not this time. This time I want to say how much I support doctors in their fight with the provincial government.
I’m worried the fallout from the government’s incredibly stupid budget cuts will set health care in Alberta back for years. There’s no question some doctors should make less and there’s also little doubt money can be saved in the health care system, but the way the government is trying to go about this makes no sense. The anger of doctors on Twitter should tell you that.
I remember, as a young reporter, covering a news conference involving then Health Minister Dave Russell, who was lamenting the rising cost of health care and saying something needed to be done. That was 1980, 40 years ago. Not much has changed.
This is something that should tell the Kenney government that if loads of smart politicians and health care leaders couldn’t find a magic bullet to drastically reduce health care costs in the last 40 years, it’s not going to happen now.
Maybe it’s time for the government to realize we need to find a way to pay for quality health care and get on with it?
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